Premier Christy Clark accepted the resignation Friday of one of her closest advisers as the political fallout over a leaked strategy aimed at wooing ethnic voters continued to rock the Liberal government.
Kim Haakstad, who was Clark’s deputy chief of staff and had worked with the premier for years, resigned as the controversy over the ethnic vote courting strategy tore at caucus unity.
“Kim reached her decision after much consideration of her roles and responsibilities,” Clark said in a three-sentence statement late Friday afternoon. “Consistent with circumstances of resignations, no severance payment applies.”
At least one Liberal MLA slammed his own party publicly over the leaked memo, which appeared to condone using public money to help the Liberals spread their ethnic message in time for the May 14 election.
Dave Hayer, an Indo-Canadian who has been a Liberal MLA since 2001, condemned the plan Friday, adding his voice to a furor unleashed earlier in the week when the Opposition NDP leaked the strategy document, which was dated January 2012.
“This proposed outreach plan was insulting to the intended targeted communities and was, when I found out about it, insulting to me and to all other MLAs who believe in doing things properly, fairly and within the rules and laws of the legislature,” Hayer said.
The document outlines a plan involving the premier’s office, the multiculturalism ministry, the government caucus and the B.C. Liberal party.
The 17-page paper includes eight strategy components, including advice for so-called “quick wins” in popular support gained by correcting historical wrongs.
It also includes several references to tailoring government and Liberal news to the ethnic media, ensuring there is proper translation.
Use of taxpayer resources for political purposes is forbidden.
The B.C. government has promised to get to the bottom of whether public resources were used for political purposes, but the answers weren’t coming as fast as the deputy premier suggested.
Deputy premier Rich Coleman read an apology from Clark in the legislature Thursday, saying the leaked strategy document appeared to cross the line.
Coleman said then he should know within 24 hours what went wrong and how, but on Friday, the premier’s office issued only the terms of reference for the review. They include a pledge to conduct interviews and review all documents related to the leaked strategy paper.
Those involved in the investigation include Coleman, the deputy ministers of finance and open government and the head of the B.C. Public Service Agency.
NDP house leader John Horgan said he’s concerned the Liberal government’s planned review of its proposal to woo ethnic voters doesn’t go far enough because it doesn’t include the Liberal party or the party caucus.
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