“Ethnic outreach” project ran out BC Ministry of Advanced Education: report

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Minister John Yap and two government staffers resign

By Laura Rodgers

VANCOUVER (CUP) — A BC Liberal project using taxpayer-funded resources to mount an election campaign targeting minority voters ran out of the BC Ministry of Advanced Education with the knowledge of former minister John Yap, according to a report issued by Liberal deputy minister John Dyble.

The report, at the centre of an ongoing BC Liberal scandal, found a “serious misuse” of government time and resources to conduct party business: crafting a strategy to promote the party among BC voters who are members of ethnic minority groups.

The report said the once-secret outreach project began in 2011 within the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation when Harry Bloy, also the minister of state for multiculturalism, held that post.
Bloy resigned from Cabinet in the spring of 2012, and John Yap took over as minister of state for Multiculturalism. Then in a summer 2012 cabinet shuffle, Yap was appointed as minister of advanced education, innovation and technology — and the ethnic outreach project followed him.

Yap had already resigned from Cabinet by the time the report’s results were made public. Two government staffers have resigned from their posts entirely in the wake of the scandal, and the Liberals
have pledged to pay back the $70,000 of taxpayer funds they spent on partisan activities.

The report notes that Yap was aware that former ministry staffer Brian Bonney frequently used his personal email address, rather than his government address, for communication about the project in order to circumvent freedom-ofinformation laws.

Yap and Premier Christy Clark have both apologized and expressed remorse over what occurred in the ethnic outreach project. However, they have both also said they had some degree of ignorance regarding the project’s activities.

The NDP expressed dissatisfaction with the outcome of the report, and they are calling for a broader investigation from an independent body.