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Premier backs away from allegation that NDP hacked B.C. Liberal website

Premier Christy Clark admitted Thursday that she was too quick to blame the NDP for an incident in which someone allegedly hacked into the B.C. Liberal website last weekend.
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Premier Christy Clark is photographed during her annual year end interview in her office at the provincial legislature in Victoria, B.C., Friday, December 16, 2016. It's not the apology B.C. New Democrat Leader John Horgan has demanded, but Clark now admits she jumped to conclusions when she blamed the Opposition for hacking her party's website.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Premier Christy Clark admitted Thursday that she was too quick to blame the NDP for an incident in which someone allegedly hacked into the B.C. Liberal website last weekend.

Clark acknowledged that she has no evidence to back up her accusation other than the fact the B.C. Liberals have traced the hack to an IP address at the B.C. legislature in Victoria.

“I was really mad about it,” she told Jim Harrison on CHNL Radio in Kamloops Thursday morning.

“I jumped to the conclusion that almost everybody else jumped to, which was: Somebody in the B.C. legislature has malicious intent and they’re trying to harm the B.C. Liberals.

“It seems like a pretty narrow list of individuals that would fit that category. But, at the moment, other than knowing it comes from the legislature — somebody could say well, it was the janitor I guess.”

Clark said she’ll wait for the results of an investigation into the hack, but was unable to say who was leading the investigation or whether the police are involved.

She stopped short of apologizing to NDP Leader John Horgan for the attack, saying the two can discuss it personally when the B.C. legislature resumes sitting next week.

“If Mr. Horgan really feels like he needs an apology, I’ll see him on Tuesday and I’m sure he’ll have the opportunity to raise that directly with me in the legislature,” she said.

Horgan, who threatened Wednesday to sue Clark if she refused to retract her comments and issue a public apology, said the premier seems oblivious to the seriousness of the situation.

“She said today that hacking subverts democracy and I absolutely agree,” he said. “But to make allegations of criminal activity without any evidence is irresponsible and reckless in my opinion.”

Horgan suggested the Liberals were trying to cover up their poor management of personal information and steer attention from a damning report released Monday on the death of an 18-year-old Metis boy, who took his own life in 2015 at the Abbotsford hotel where he had been living for 49 days while in government care.

The B.C. Liberals first announced the alleged hacking Monday, claiming that over the weekend their “opponents” gained access to supporters’ feedback on the party’s Vancouver Island platform. The hackers also obtained the supporters’ names, email addresses and postal codes, the B.C. Liberals said.

B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said the bickering between the Liberals and NDP is exactly why people have grown disenchanted with politics. “People are sick and tired of this stuff,” he said. “They’re sick and tired of these career politicians hurling abuse at each other, not getting anything done, not working together.”

The Greens, he said, are going to leave the bickering to the Liberals and NDP. “We’re just going to keep on going, let them do what they’re doing.”

lkines@timescolonist.com