Highlights from the Dyble report on the B.C. Liberal's Multicultural Strategic Outreach plan
The B.C. government has concluded an internal investigation into the Liberal’s draft Multicultural Strategic Outreach plan.
The cynical memo, leaked to the B.C. NDP and media in February, proposed that the Liberals use government funds for partisan purposes and woo non-white voters with apologies for historical wrongs.
The investigation was led by Premier Christy Clark's deputy minister, John Dyble. His findings were released to the public earlier today in a news release.
The government has not made Dyble’s actual report available. It’s cited privacy concerns and argued that freedom of information laws prevent it from doing so.
The Straight’s quick-witted Miranda Nelson was nominated the fastest reader on the floor, and subsequently compiled the following “Dyble Report Highlight Reel” (presented below in the order sections appear in the document).
Context: The review team’s conclusion.
Excerpt: “Kim Haakstad, the most senior official involved, permitted the development of the draft Plan. This action set in motion a series of events that resulted in the need for this review. Brian Bonney used the opportunity to take actions that violate Public Service Standards of Conduct and financial and procurement policy. Brian Bonney did not create a clear distinction between his volunteer role with the BC Liberal Party and his role in the public service. His actions result in a serious breach of the Standards of Conduct.
“There are two notable areas where the team determined there was a misuse of government resources. In one case, a payment was made to one of the community liaison contractors for work that was approved by Minister Yap in the absence of a signed contract. In the second case, it is clear that at least a portion of Brian Bonney’s salary was paid for time when he was doing partisan work.” [page 6]
Context: A December 21, 2011 meeting to “discuss multicultural outreach” was held in a caucus meeting at the legislature. The meeting—convened by then-deputy chief of staff Kim Haakstad, who has since resigned—included government employees Brian Bonney, Dave Ritchie, Mike Lee, Barinder Bhullar, Pamela Martin, B.C. Liberal Party member Fiera Lo, and four members of the B.C. Liberal caucus, including Primrose Carson, Jeff Melland, Lorne Mayencourt, and a fourth caucus employee.
Excerpt: “Several attendees indicated that the issue of sharing information between government, party and caucus was raised as a concern in the discussion. These attendees recall that the discussion recognized a need to be clear about the boundaries of what was appropriate for government, caucus and party activities. The document that was produced does not reflect any distinction. In interviews, a few of the participants indicated that they thought the meeting was more of a government meeting as they saw themselves attending as government employees and had simply discussed their current roles and activities they were already undertaking within those roles. One participant had never previously met the party and caucus employees. Other participants clearly felt the meeting was political in nature.” [page 18]
Context: Indications that a document that emerged from a meeting conducted during regular business hours (when staff are on government time, paid for with taxpayers’ money) was understood to be a partisan, and not government business.
Excerpt: “On January 10th, 2012, Kim Haakstad sent the final drafts of the documents out to some of the meeting participants from her personal email to their personal email accounts. When asked why personal email was used for the transmission, Kim said that it was because the document was clearly a partisan document. Three follow up meetings were scheduled with at least some of the original group; they show as regular calendar entries in the work schedule for the Deputy Chief of Staff on January 11, March 12 and May 8, 2012.” [page 19]
Context: Premier Christy Clark has maintained that she was not involved nor aware of the drafting of the Multicultural Strategic Outreach plan.
Excerpt: “Premier Christy Clark, MLA Harry Bloy and MLA John Yap were all interviewed as part of this review. All of them stated that they had never seen the draft strategy document or work plan until they were in the public domain in the week of February 25, 2013.” [page 19]
Context: A June 28, 2012, email from Mike Lee, then-executive assistant to the minister of state, to John Yap, then-minister of advanced education, innovation and technology and minister responsible for multiculturalism. CC’d was Brian Bonney, a former government communications director. The emails were all sent on personal accounts. The italics that appears below is the Straight’s emphasis.
Excerpt: “Minister — just finished reviewing all the RFQs [request for qualifications] from our 3 liaisons . . . I have send [sic] them reminder emails to double check their application and ultimately check for any trace of I and Brian’s involvement. It is absolutely critical that we do not leave any evidence in us helping them through this application. Other than that lets hope these applications make it to the final round!”.
“Minister Yap replies to Mike Lee and to Brian Bonney: “I appreciate each of your efforts with the 3 RFQs. Great job. Let’s now hope for the best. J.”
“When Mike Lee was asked about his support to the individuals he said that Minister Yap instructed him to help them because he knew a few of them. He also said that Brian Bonney had been helping these individuals with their bid documents originally and that he took over when Brian Bonney went on vacation. He said that he provided assistance in the form of sentence structure and English language. It is unclear what type of support Brian Bonney provided. He also stated that he was told by Brian Bonney that it was problematic to be involved and not to tell the ministry; Mike Lee said he felt obligated to do what he was told. When MLA Yap was asked about this involvement he said that some individuals had approached his office and asked how to apply for the bid and that he felt comfortable with his staff’s involvement.” [page 21]
“It is clear from emails that in August 2012, and September 2012, Brian Bonney was directing the work of the four community liaison contractors and the two caucus outreach workers. This communication took place on personal email. When Brian Bonney was asked why he was directing these individuals using personal email, he indicated that it was because he knew the selection of the four community liaison contractors was confidential. When Minister Yap was asked why his former Communications Director was using personal email for this correspondence, he said that it was to avoid freedom of information.
“In one of the personal emails to the community liaison contractors, Brian Bonney instructed them not to tell the ministry program director that they know him. In another, he circulated an event form to the community liaison contractors and instructed them not to use the same form or information when they submit events to the ministry program director. When Brian Bonney was asked about this email he indicated that the form he provided was a “party” form so he did not want the potential community liaison contractors using this form with the ministry.”[page 23]
Context: Indications that a plan was being formulated to target “ethnic” voters ahead of an election.
Excerpt: “The December, 2011, spreadsheet makes specific reference to WIN 2013 software for the ability to create “ethnic lists” and the creation of an “ethnic database”. Those interviewed understand that, while some initial work was completed on looking at the potential use of WIN software for caucus, it was not pursued.” [pages 23-34]
Context: Indications that Fiero Lo, an executive assistant in government, forwarded confidential information collected by government to a private email account.
Excerpt: “Email records show that Fiera Lo sent three packages of lists of individuals who had been attending events with Minister Yap to her personal email account on March 4, 2013. Of note, prior to joining government, Fiera Lo was an employee of the BC Liberal Party and attended the December 1st, 2011 meeting in that capacity, and was given the assignment of “ethnic lists”. Email records also show that Brian Bonney was emailing similar lists to his personal email account.” [page 24]
Context: Indications that government officials were using public events and confidential information for partisan purposes.
Excerpt: “September 26, 2012 Another anonymous call is made to Mark Seeley, Multiculturalism program director. The caller advises Mark that they provided their name and personal information, which seemed odd to them at the time. Following that, they began receiving political information at their home and made the connection that this must have resulted from the meeting.
“September 28, 2012 Anonymous call made to Deb Zehr, the former Executive Director at Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, to complain that they were being “threatened” that if they didn’t put on an event for the minister, their organization may not receive funding under the grant program.
“Early October, 2012 A third anonymous call is made to Madhavee Inamdar, (sometime between the 5th and the 16th of October). The caller states that they were at a function and pressured to provide a full list of the names and phone numbers of all club members. The names of Fiera Lo and Brian Bonney were mentioned. It was also suggested by Fiera Lo that the caller should not call the Chair of the Multicultural Advisory Council to report this as it would make trouble for the organization.” [page 69]
The complete Dyble report is available here.