NDP leader says going to RCMP about Liberal allegations not about sour grapes

VICTORIA – British Columbia’s New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix says he forwarded information to the RCMP in connection with the Liberal government’s discredited plan to court ethnic voters, but he refused to provide details while saying his actions had nothing to do with losing the provincial election.

Dix said Friday that the NDP found evidence after the May 14 election and that party lawyers advised him to submit a letter to the RCMP.

“As part of our work, we uncovered new information that we believe to be serious evidence of wrongdoing,” he said. “This isn’t about the election campaign. This is about serious misconduct over time that the Liberal party has been engaged in.”

Dix said he has not been contacted by the RCMP since he sent the letter on Aug. 29.

Insp. Ed Boettcher said the Mounties will not be offering further comment about the current investigation in order to protect the integrity of the investigation, the evidence obtained and the privacy of those involved.

Elections BC spokesman Don Main said the RCMP contacted chief electoral officer Keith Archer last month about a complaint related to the Elections Act, but did not provide details of the complaint.

On Thursday, the Criminal Justice Branch in the Attorney General’s Ministry issued a statement announcing an RCMP investigation into alleged Election Act irregularities and the appointment of a special prosecutor to help police probe the Liberal government’s plan to woo ethnic voters.

The statement indicated the investigation has been underway for several weeks.

“Announcement of the appointment was delayed by the branch until Thursday’s date at the specific request of the RCMP to safeguard the integrity of the investigation in its early stages,” it said.

An NDP source also would not elaborate on the new information Dix provided to the RCMP but said it emerged after last February, when the NDP released the original Liberal multicultural draft strategy, and last July’s legislative session.

At the time, the New Democrats said the release of 10,000 pages of documents connected to the government’s own review of the scandal revealed conversations suggesting a former Liberal contract worker, Sepideh Sarrafpour, be offered a job in exchange for her silence on potentially damaging information about Clark and the Liberal government.

Dix said in July that emails contained in the documents indicate at least one person, Sarrafpour, with the potential to damage the Liberals was not interviewed as part of the review. She could not be reached for comment.

The email in question involves communications suggesting Sarrafpour should be offered money to do non-public work before the May election.

She could not be reached for comment.

The Liberal multicultural plan to attract ethnic voters in the run-up to last May’s provincial election resulted in the resignation from cabinet of the Liberal minister responsible for multiculturalism, the resignation of one of Premier Christy Clark’s closest aides and the dismissal of at least one bureaucrat.

The leaked Liberals’ ethnic vote strategy detailed an internal government plan that included government workers, some of whom were paid by the Liberal party, to appeal to multicultural communities ahead of the election.

Clark apologized on several occasions to ethnic voters for the details of the Liberal plan, which included suggestions to achieve quick wins in multicultural communities through events supporting long-standing grievances and cultural issues.

Clark’s deputy minister, John Dyble, concluded in the review she ordered that government resources were misused.

The review, which made six recommendations, found two serious instances of misuse, including the payment of $6,800 to a community contractor for work approved by former multiculturalism minister John Yap without a signed contract.

The second instance concerned former government aide Brian Bonney, who worked for the caucus and the Liberal party while he was being paid as a government employee.

Dyble said at least half of Bonney’s time was spent doing work for the Liberal party on the ethnic-outreach strategy, prompting the party to later reimburse the government $70,000 as part of Bonney’s salary. He left government for a private-sector job.

Dix’s New Democrats were defeated in last May’s election, losing a 20-point lead, and last week, Dix announced he will step down as soon as the party can elect a new leader.

The Liberals released a statement about the investigation from Clark’s director of communications, Ben Chin.

“It is inappropriate to comment during any ongoing investigation. The government of British Columbia respects this process, and will co-operate fully,” Chin said. “Any citizen, including Mr. Dix, is free to file a complaint with the authorities.”

In July, Dix called the B.C. Liberals “cheats.”

“Huge money was involved in government advertising, which is part of the plan,” he said after question period, where the ethnic-vote issue was hotly debated.

“They diverted $1 million from the jobs’ plan.”

Before the election was called, the NDP led the Liberals in opinion polls by double digits. The New Democrats barely mentioned the failed Liberal multicultural plan during the campaign.

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