Special prosecutor appointed after Adrian Dix asks RCMP to probe possible violations of Election Act
The Mounties are investigating allegations of violations of the B.C. Election Act.
This came after a confidential complaint filed by NDP Leader Adrian Dix in early August, which was revealed today.
"In order to ensure the integrity of the work of the Special Prosecutor and the RCMP, I will not provide any further details at this point," Dix said in a written statement issued late this afternoon.
Earlier in the day, the criminal justice branch in the attorney general's ministry disclosed that Vancouver lawyer David Butcher had been appointed as a special prosecutor.
The news release stated that this came after the RCMP began an investigation into issues "arising out of the Review of the Draft Multicultural Strategic Outreach Plan".
The report was written by Premier Christy Clark's deputy minister, John Dyble, in the wake of a scandal involving the use of government resources to advance the political prospects of the B.C. Liberal party.
The criminal justice branch statement revealed that the RCMP probe came after a complaint, but didn't identify the Opposition leader as the complainant.
The complainant also pointed out possible contraventions of the Election Act to the police.
Butcher is a veteran lawyer who has often been retained by the Vancouver police board to defend officers accused of misconduct.
He and criminal justice branch spokesperson Samantha Hulme were not available for comment.
The multicultural-outreach strategy highlighted how the B.C. Liberal party could attract more votes from religious and racial minorities.
Because government resources were used to advance the strategy—which was created to benefit the party—the B.C. Liberals voluntarily repaid $70,000 to taxpayers.
"The investigation relates to concerns the Opposition has raised repeatedly in the Legislature, as well as other serious issues," Dix said in his statement. "I thought these issues were sufficiently serious to warrant an investigation."
The B.C. Liberals' multicultural-outreach document pointed out that the party needed someone who could counter B.C. NDP candidate Gabriel Yiu in the Chinese-language media.
Coincidentally, Yiu complained to the Straight after the May election of dirty tricks targeting him by a group called Better B.C. Coalition.
The coalition claimed in pre-election Chinese-language newspaper ads that the B.C. NDP supported legalizing marijuana.
The coalition also alleged in the ads that the B.C. NDP would tax businesses before they made a profit and that it would stop plans to export natural gas to China, damaging relations with the Chinese government. Yiu adamantly insisted that none of these claims were true.
Yiu narrowly lost by 470 votes to Suzanne Anton in Vancouver-Fraserview.
The premier subsequently appointed Anton as attorney general, which means the criminal justice branch falls within her ministry.
Yiu told the Straight today that he has not spoken to the police—and the Straight has seen no evidence that the coalition's ads are linked to Dix's complaint.
In 2009, Yiu's B.C. Liberal opponent, Kash Heed, violated campaign-spending limits, but was not forced to vacate his seat.
Meanwhile, the Straight has learned that questions have been raised with Elections B.C. in the past in connection with Education Minister Peter Fassbender's 200-vote victory in Surrey-Fleetwood over former NDP MLA Jagrup Brar.
The Straight has no evidence that this issue was raised in Dix's confidential letter to the RCMP.
In an unusual twist to the story, a veteran RCMP investigator, Amrik Virk, was elected as the B.C. Liberal candidate in Surrey-Tynehead.
Clark later appointed him as the minister of advanced education.
During the election campaign, Heed said that Virk should have resigned from the Mounties before becoming a candidate.
"That's the right thing to do to ensure that there's no conflict of interest," Heed said at the time.
Virk, however, chose instead to go on leave without pay, and promised to retire the day after he won his riding.
This is acceptable under RCMP policy, but nobody is allowed to remain a Mountie while serving in the legislature.