Integrity B.C. pinpointed one issue of concern in August in connection with the quick wins scandal
There's been plenty of speculation since the criminal justice branch declared that the RCMP is investigating issues arising out of the multicultural-outreach fiasco.
Earlier this week, NDP Leader Adrian Dix revealed that he wrote a confidential letter to the Mounties in August following release of a report by Premier Christy Clark's deputy minister, John Dyble.
Dix won't comment on the contents of his letter, which also raised concerns about possible violations of the Election Act.
The police complaint about the quick-wins scandal led to the appointment of Vancouver lawyer David Butcher as a special prosecutor on August 29.
Less than a week before Butcher's appointment, a government-watchdog group called Integrity B.C. had raised some issues in connection with Dyble's report.
Dyble concluded that government resources were used to help the B.C. Liberal party woo voters from different communities.
One email from B.C. Liberal Brian Bonney—who was up to his eyeballs in the strategy—mentioned that former B.C. Liberal caucus worker Sepideh Sarrafour "worked hard to ensure" that no NDP MLAs were invited to the Ismaili community's 2012 World Partnership Walk.
Premier Clark was in attendance at the event and handed over a $25,000 government cheque. Integrity B.C. noted that she made it onto the front page of one of the Vancouver commuter papers.
The walk is held each year to support the Aga Khan Foundation's international-aid programs.
The problem—as Integrity B.C. pointed out—is that the Aga Khan Foundation is a registered charity. And the B.C. Liberals may have put the foundation in an awkward position because the Canada Revenue Agency prohibits registered charities from engaging in partisan political activities.
According to Integrity B.C., the B.C. Liberals also leaned on another registered charity, the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver, to maximize exposure of then-minister of multiculturalism John Yap at a telethon/radiothon.
There's no proof that this might be what the Mounties are looking into. There are probably enough other things of interest, such as government wages going to people who were promoting the party.
And the Canada Revenue Agency has not been known in the past to take disciplinary action against registered charities that wittingly or unwittingly advance the prospects of politicians.
For instance, former prime minister Paul Martin elicited the help of the Canada West Foundation—another registered charity—to host a series of town-hall meetings when he was running for Liberal leader against Sheila Copps and John Manley. Copps and Manley weren't invited to these events, nor were New Democrat or Conservative politicians.
In the eyes of some, that might constitute partisan political activity. But it wasn't a problem for the Canada Revenue Agency.
One of Martin's chief political organizers at the time in B.C., Mark Marissen, who happens to be the ex-husband and a strong supporter of Premier Clark.
The Clark camp could easily argue that if the Canada Revenue Agency didn't do anything when a registered charity promoted Martin, how could it justify taking action now?
But there's one minor difference.
Back then, Martin was cruising to becoming prime minister—and would appoint the minister of national revenue.
Nowadays, the prime minister is a Conservative, Stephen Harper. And he probably doesn't appreciate Marissen's Liberal friends working so hard to advance the interests of his chief rival, Justin Trudeau.
Whether that makes any difference whatsoever to how this situation plays out is anyone's guess.