Richmond MLA John Yap’s sudden resignation from the B.C. Liberal cabinet has come as a surprise to a Chinese Canadian advocacy group.
Yap has stepped down as minister of advanced education and multiculturalism amid a controversy over a government strategy to woo “ethnic voters”.
The Chinese Canadian National Council [CCNC] expressed surprise at Yap’s resignation. The group said he had been involved in talks about a potential provincial apology for the Chinese head tax policy and was not multiculturalism minister when the memo was created.
“We thank Mr. Yap for his cabinet service and hope that he will return to the executive council soon,” CCNC executive director Victor Wong said in a statement.
“CCNC hopes that a thorough review will be conducted and all of the responsible parties identified.”
Norman Ruff, a political observer and former University of Victoria professor, also weighed in on Yap’s resignation.
“It’s always dangerous to attribute motivations, but quite frankly I think he probably thought, ‘I can’t be the point person on this anymore. This is the something the premier has to carry. I would just be a distraction’. So he stepped out of the way completely,” Ruff told the Straight by phone.
Chinese Canadian activists have blasted the leaked memo, which called for “quick wins” including the government making up for historic wrongs against non-white groups.
Premier Christy Clark has apologized for the strategy document and launched a review into whether government resources were used inappropriately.
Clark has also remained tight-lipped about the resignation, but Yap has accepted some responsibility for the matter, the CBC reports.
“I’m the minister responsible,” Yap is quoted as saying. “This is an issue that involves multiculturalism and the responsibility rests with me as the current minister (with) responsibility for multiculturalism.”
Yap has stepped down from cabinet pending the outcome of the review.