B.C. premier's top staffer resigns amid 'ethnic vote' controversy
Kim Haakstad had offered advice and input on Liberals' 'Multicultural Strategy'
Posted: Mar 1, 2013 6:02 PM PT
Last Updated: Mar 2, 2013 6:05 PM PT
British Columbia Premier Christy Clark's deputy chief of staff has resigned, days after the leak of a controversial document outlining the Liberals' plan to win ethnic votes in the upcoming provincial election.
Kim Haakstad had offered advice and input during the drafting stages of the Liberals' "Multicultural Strategy" revealed in documents leaked by the NDP earlier this week.
The documents were originally sent from Haakstad's email account in January last year and revealed a proposed outreach plan involving the premier's office, the Multiculturalism Ministry, the government caucus and the B.C. Liberal Party.
Clark, who accepted Haakstad's resignation Friday night, maintains she didn't know who crafted the controversial document and said she has asked for a review to ensure no government resources were inappropriately used.
Martyn Brown, who served as former premier Gordon Campbell's chief of staff, calls the documenting of such a strategy "politically stupid" and inane.
"The premier, to this moment as I speak, doesn't seem to grasp the scope and magnitude of the damage she's done to her party and to all the people she's serving," he said.
B.C. government probe
Meanwhile, the B.C. government has announced the terms of reference for an investigation into the scandal.
Deputy Premier Rich Coleman said yesterday he might have results from the investigation within 24 hours.
However, it now appears it will take longer because the terms of reference don't give a deadline for the final report, saying only that the findings will be reported as fast as possible.
John Dyble, deputy minister to the premier, will head a team that will conduct interviews and review documents related to the ethnic vote plan, and the investigation will cover the premier's office and several ministries, including the one dealing with multiculturalism.
But NDP House Leader John Horgan said the review falls short because it doesn't include the Liberal Party or the party caucus.
Riding association presidents step down
Haakstad's resignation comes as the presidents of three Liberal riding associations in Surrey — Fleetwood, Whalley and Green Timbers — stepped down.
The Liberals, however, were quick to point out two of them quit well before the ethnic votes scandal blew up.
Peter Fassbender, the candidate in Surrey-Fleetwood, said his riding president, Brenda Locke, appears to have resigned over personal issues.
Clark apologized in a written statement on Thursday for the language used in the document.
It outlined "quick wins" for the Liberals, such as making apologies in the legislature for historical wrongs, specifically mentioning the 1914 Komagata Maru incident, which saw a ship carrying 356 passengers forced to return to India after a two-month standoff in Vancouver Harbour.
"The document did not recognize there are lines that cannot be crossed in conducting this outreach and it is unacceptable," Clark's statement read.
"The language in this draft document and some of the recommendations are absolutely inappropriate."
B.C.'s next provincial election is slated for May.With files from The Canadian Press
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