11/07/2012 15:29 EST | Updated 01/07/2013 05:12 EST

B.C. cabinet minister under fire for release of email

A senior B.C. cabinet minister is coming under fire for forwarding what could be considered a confidential email to a Liberal Party executive.

It's strictly against the rules to forward emails that are considered advice to cabinet, but it's not clear whether or not this particular message falls into that category.

Last December Jobs Minister Pat Bell forwarded an email to Bill Belsey, a former MLA and vice president of the B.C. Liberal Party.

The email, which was obtained by the Globe and Mail newspaper, contained a Chinese language news article about Ni Ritao, a Chinese businessman involved in a failed bid to re-open the Skeena Cellulose pulp mill in Prince Rupert. The trouble is, Belsey had a business relationship with Ni, and the email contained notes made by officials in the Jobs Ministry.

That means it could be considered advice to cabinet and therefore strictly confidential.

Bell insists he did nothing wrong — but NDP finance critic Bruce Ralston doesn't buy it.

"I don't accept that explanation from him and it's difficult to see how this is any different from the situation that gave rise to Mr Bloy having to resign from cabinet and the premier describing that as very bad judgement."

Ralston is calling on Premier Christy Clark to launch a full investigation.