The Liberal Opposition is pulling out all the stops to make a case that the B.C. NDP government has not done enough to preserve evidence related to the RCMP criminal investigation of Surrey-Panorama MLA Jinny Sims.
On Monday, the Liberals sent a letter to Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan, the commanding officer of the RCMP E Division, asking the force to instruct the B.C. NDP government to preserve electronic and other evidence related to the case.
Sims resigned Friday as minister of citizens’ services after a special prosecutor was assigned to the case.
In the letter to the RCMP, Liberal chief of staff Spencer Sproule says that “Sims stated she still has the government issued iPad and mobile phone that will contain evidence essential to this investigation.”
The letter to the RCMP was released to media.
In response to continued criticism of their handling of the case by the Liberals in the B.C. legislature on Tuesday, Attorney General David Eby said that Sims lost all access to government email, her calendar and her “devices” on Friday.
Eby said government records are secure and could not be deleted. He added that a staff member in Sim’s constituency office was placed on administrative leave on Friday and her “devices” were taken.
Eby said as for any allegations that there may be information on private applications such as WhatsApp, the government does not have any control over that information.
“If the member had used applications like that, she would know that you could access that from any computer in the world,” Eby said in response to questions from Prince George-Valemount Liberal MLA Shirley Bond.
On Tuesday, the RCMP refused to say whether it had received the Liberal’s letter, how it would respond, whether it would be taking steps to preserve evidence or had already done so.
“We will not be publicly speaking about or addressing any of the questions you have asked as they directly relate to an active and ongoing investigation,” the B.C. RCMP director of communications, Dawn Roberts, said in an email. “Our investigation will take the time necessary and we are not in a position to provide any other details or specifics.”
Premier John Horgan’s NDP government has been faced with accusations from the Liberals that it bungled accusations by a whistleblower that may have sparked the Sims’ investigation.
Whistleblower Kate Gillie’s allegations included that Sims wrote visa application endorsements for 10 Pakistani citizens in exchange for promised political donations and that some of those people were on a U.S. security watch list. Another accusation was that Sims used iMessage, WhatsApp and a personal email to conduct ministerial business to put the communication records out of reach of Freedom of Information laws.
The allegations were investigation by Horgan’s chief of staff Geoff Meggs. Horgan has said Meggs concluded there was no wrongdoing.
The NDP say they do no know whether the RCMP’s investigation is related to the whistleblower’s accusations.
Gillie, Sim’s former constituency assistant, had also raised concerns over Sim having meetings with Moe Sihota, an NDP cabinet minister from the 1990s who now does work as a lobbyist. The NDP review also noted the accusation of improper lobbying was deemed untrue by the registrar of lobbyists.
In an email, Sihota, who is in Europe, said he would gladly check his records on his return as to the purpose of the meeting.
He said he had not been contacted by the RCMP.