Christy Clark apologizes to NDP for hacking claims

Premier Christy Clark apologized Friday to B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan for claiming his party hacked the B.C. Liberal website and stole personal information.

“Earlier today I called the leader of the Opposition and I apologized to John for comments I made earlier this week,” Clark told reporters.

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“It is further proof of the fact that when we jump to conclusions and we make a mistake we should own up to it. And I have no problems saying sorry because I made a mistake and I shouldn’t have jumped to those conclusions as quickly as I did.”

Province columnist Mike Smyth reported on a leaked list of personal information about Vancouver Island Liberal supporters on Monday, prompting a claim from the B.C. Liberal party that it was hacked.

Clark then told Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer in a Facebook Live interview on Tuesday that the NDP was responsible.

On Wednesday, the premier tried blaming the media for reporting on “inside baseball” while ignoring her jobs plan.

On Thursday, she backed away from claiming the NDP was responsible, telling radio station CHNL that she might have jumped to conclusions. But she refused to apologize at that time, saying if the NDP wanted an apology they’d have to ask for one in the legislature when it resumes next week. The NDP threatened legal action for what it said were false claims of a criminal act.

By Friday, the premier was in full retreat on the issue.

“When talking to the Vancouver Sun I made a mistake,” Clark said Friday.

“And I want to do as much as I can to make that right today to offer my apology to John, which I’ve done. And I hope I get a chance to talk to him directly later when he returns my call.”

Clark said she left a voice message for Horgan after staff were unable to reach him directly, and hoped to speak with him directly later.

Horgan said he’d yet to listen to Clark’s voicemail because he was delivering a speech at the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, but would get around to it later to judge whether he will accept it, or whether it will be enough to end the NDP’s threat of legal action.

“This is just the weirdest thing in the world,” Horgan said. “She created a problem for herself, she’s been making it a bigger problem as each day goes by, and now it’s incumbent on me to get in the madness with her.”

Horgan said Clark’s invention of a website hack diverted attention from a scathing report this week on how the government neglected 18-year-old Alex Gervais, who took his own life in 2015.

“Making stuff up is not just about politics,” he added in a later Facebook Live interview with Postmedia News on Friday. “I think it speaks to character, and speaks to principled leadership. You should not make things up.”

The B.C. Liberals spent much of the past week claiming someone from the legislature was responsible for “hacking” their website, because an IP address — the equivalent of a digital fingerprint — was traced from the party website to a computer at the legislature.

Independent Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington said Friday it was actually one of her staff who had accessed the information, and that the B.C. Liberal party had left it on its website without any password protection.

Clark said her party “will be making vigorous efforts” to improve security.

The premier said her apology concludes the issue, in her mind.

“I don’t know what more I can do except apologize to him,” she said.

“I’m glad I’ve been able to get that off my chest because certainly when Vicki Huntington came forward and said it was her that had the information and her office that obtained it I needed to make sure I made it right with John.

“I think when John returns my call and we get a chance to talk directly about it, I think that will be the end of it for me.”

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