Ethnicgate Part Deux: New email suggests that B.C. Liberals may have offered hush money to staffer

Andy Radia
July 16, 2013

We all remember the 'ethnic-gate' controversy in British Columbia, right?

In February, the opposition NDP revealed a 17-page multicultural outreach strategy outlining the Liberal party's plan to win ethnic votes in the May election. The report suggested that the party was using taxpayer funded staff from the premier's office and other government resources for 'quick wins' with ethnic communities.

That scandal, as they say, blew over and the Liberals won the election in convincing fashion.

Well, it looks like the scandal is back.

The NDP have uncovered yet another email — in 10,000 pages of documents released after the election — which makes it looks like the Liberals tried to pay off an anonymous woman to keep quiet about 'Ethnicgate.'

[ Related: B.C. Premier Christy Clark wins byelection: It’s time for her doubters to stop doubting ]

Here are some excerpts from the highly redacted email — dated September 18, 2012 — written by Brian Bonney, the then-Communications Director of Multiculturalism.

We will see if we can help find something else ...

Assess her response and advise.

Have [Minister of Multiculturalism] Harry Bloy meet with her and explain how doing anything would damage the Premier and the party.

Have him say how he will try to find her work and get her back involved.

If need be, offer x dollars per month to do non-public work up to election (developing her database of potential supporters).

The NDP — of course — are asking for a full investigation.

"The premier and everyone involved have a lot of questions to answer. British Columbians deserve to know what this government was trying to cover up, and why they were developing a plan that contemplated offering a job or money to keep someone quiet," NDP leader Adrian Dix said in a statement.

"This email was part of the documentation reviewed by the premier's Deputy Minister, John Dyble, yet it did not come up once in his report. The government needs to confirm whether or not Mr. Dyble saw this email and what if anything he did as a result."

In the legislature, on Monday, the Liberals did what all governments under fire do — they deflected.

"A full report was delivered [the Dyble Report], and the government has accepted all the recommendations," Teresa Watt, the new minister of multiculturalism, said according to the Vancouver Province.

"I think we have to move forward, put this aside and try to focus on multiculturalism."

[ Related: Christy Clark goes from outhouse to penthouse in popularity poll ]

Unfortunately, that response doesn't cut it.

While Brian Bonney and Harry Bloy are no longer in government, the ethnicgate scandal is one that originated from the premier's office.

And British Columbians deserve to answers to the following questions:

- What exactly would "damage the premier and the party" as written in Bonney's email?

- Was someone actually offered or paid hush money?

- Why wasn't this email highlighted in John Dyble's report? (incidentally, Dyble was reappointed as Clark's deputy after the May election)

As the Vancouver Province's Michael Smyth writes, the Liberals shouldn't be so quick to dismiss this issue.

"Before the election, the Liberals were downcast, apologetic and grovelling in the face of the ethnic vote-buying scam. Now they practically laugh in the NDP's faces," he wrote.

"The public still deserves an explanation. And if this is going to be the Liberals' response to every new controversy — 'we won, so now we don't care' — they could find themselves sliding back down in the polls once again."

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