Clark staffers an inept bunch of bunglers
British Columbia Premier Christy Clark
As a government plot it is quite unique in any scandology of B.C. politics. — political scientist Norman Ruff on the BC Liberal’s ethnic outreach controversy
The strong temptation is to call the hapless hacks who concocted the BC Liberal’s disastrous ethnic outreach document The Gang That Couldn’t Memo Straight, an inept bunch of bunglers.
Those staff working in Premier Christy Clark’s office have done her more damage trying to score political points than her opponents could dream of is bad enough.
But there’s much more to this than political farce performed by some incompetent aides who one ex-BC Liberal described as “a bunch of losers.”
And despite Clark accepting resignations from deputy chief of staff Kim Haakstad and multiculturalism minister John Yap, this scandal is far from over.
Clark’s Deputy Minister John Dyble is due to report on his investigation this week, while Gordon Hogg, the BC Liberal caucus chair, is also conducting an inquiry.
Expect possible firings and more serious ramifications for the Clark crew involved, among them former BC Liberal MLA Lorne Mayencourt and ex-TV anchor Pamela Martin.
That’s because there’s a clear pattern of deception, deviousness and denial on the part of some BC Liberals.
The basics are simple: while political staff are expected to promote the premier, using non-partisan government employees and resources on partisan BC Liberal business, such as collecting data, breaks all the rules.
That’s what’s clear in the 17-page memo circulated by Haakstad via private emails, which avoids falling under Freedom Of Information requests details – and it’s why she quit.
Nor is there any sense of shame amongst some BC Liberals.
Harry Bloy, the outgoing Burnaby-Lougheed MLA, actually rose in the legislature last week to heap praise on Brian Bonney – a former staffer involved in the outreach strategy.
But can anyone have faith in Dyble’s investigation after independent Freedom Of Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham last week outlined how the premier’s office staffers deliberately delete emails that are “transitory in nature” and conduct business in ways that avoid documentation.
Denham also noted a “dramatic increase” in “no responsive records” replies to FOI requests to Clark’s office.
Abuse of government resources for partisan political gain, use of private emails that avoid detection and deleting government emails to frustrate FOI requests all add up to one conclusion: Clark’s problems are far from “transitory in nature.”