Premier’s office refuses demands from all fronts for an external review of ‘ethnicgate’

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

Ben Chin

Communications Director for the Office of the Premier, Ben Chin, pictured here with Premier Christy Clark, says there is ‘no need’ for an external review as the issue at hand is ‘whether civil service resources were appropriately managed’ and the head of the civil service is ‘the appropriate person’ to determine that. Darryl Dyck/CP

The Office of the Premier continues to reject demands to launch an external review into the “ethnicgate” scandal, despite some of the requests coming from within the B.C. Liberal party itself.

“It’s just a joke for the legal system and for the assembly that … your junior (Deputy Minister to the Premier John Dyble) investigates you,” B.C. Liberal party member Vikram Bajwa told Vancouver Desi. “Nothing concrete is going to come out of this.”

The John Dyble investigation will be the beginning of the end (of the party).”

Bajwa, along with the NDP and B.C. Conservatives, are asking caucus for an external review into the government strategy leaked last week aimed at wooing ethnic votes in the run-up to the May election. In addition to offering ethnic groups apologies for historical wrongs as a means of gaining “quick wins,” the strategy sought to use taxpayer money for partisan purposes.

Vancouver-Fraserview MLA Kash Heed believes a review should be conducted the same way police investigate internal incidents, referencing external bodies like the Office of the Police Complaints Commission or the Independent Investigation Office.

“I’m asking for a transparent, accountable and appropriate investigation done in a timely fashion,” Heed said. “Certainly the perception that comes from the bureaucrat doing it is not a good one.”

The NDP party has been demanding the same since they leaked the document last week.

“We’re going to have a peripheral review by the Deputy Minister — who was appointed by Christy Clark,”said opposition House Leader John Horgan. “(And) Mr. Dyble has no power to subpoena.”

According to Horgan, Dyble cannot compel people who have left the government, like Kim Haakstad or Brian Bonney.

“He has no ability to interview them if they choose to not participate,” he said. “I hold him in the highest regard — he’s just the wrong person in the wrong place to do this investigation.”

“It’s a mess and the solution requires independence … then the public would be guaranteed that we would get to the bottom of this.”

B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins agrees, adding the review puts Dyble in an “awkward position.”

“The problem, of course, is that there is that relationship to the government — him being a senior bureaucrat . . . and essentially investigating his boss,” he said.

Both Bajwa and Horgan believe a B.C. judge would be fit to lead the investigation.

“There are no shortages of judges on various benches in British Columbia that would be impartial,” said Horgan.

But according to communications director for the Premier’s Office, Ben Chin, there is “no need” to follow up on any of these suggestions.

“What we are looking at here is whether the civil service resources were appropriately managed,” he said. “There’s no better person to do that than the head of the civil service.”

“(Dyble) is the appropriate person to review it and we should await the release of the review.”

Dyble’s review is expected to be released by the end of next week.

But Bajwa still wants an alternative.

“Otherwise … (Christy Clark) is going to take everybody down the drain with her,” he said.

He not only wants to question the premier, her staff and the concerned ministers, but he also wants to look into the Times of India Film Awards, which he believes was another ruse to gain ethnic votes.

“We love the movie stars from India, but how (did this) happen?” he asked. “The questions are not for British Columbia, it’s for the multicultural groups, the ethnic groups who have been damaged and who have been disrespected.”

“Unfortunately (Clark) doesn’t see the big picture.”

lcahute@theprovince.com
twitter.com/larissacahute

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