Criminal charges point to culture of deny and delete in premier’s office

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John Horgan Leader of the B.C. New Democrats
John Horgan Leader of the B.C. New Democrats
John Horgan
Leader of the B.C. New Democrats

Destroying public records. Lying under oath. Breach of trust. These are the charges facing the people who work for Premier Christy Clark.

This week, a Special Prosecutor laid a criminal charge of breach of trust against Brian Bonney, a key Christy Clark operative, for actions he allegedly took to promote and protect the premier.

It’s disappointing, it’s infuriating, but it’s not surprising. Because for years we’ve seen people around the premier getting caught lying and covering their tracks.

There’s Laura Miller, executive director of the B.C. Liberal Party, who faces criminal charges relating to the destruction of government documents in Ontario.

There’s George Gretes, a former aide to Transportation Minister Todd Stone, who allegedly deleted emails relating to missing and murdered women on the Highway of Tears to hide them from public scrutiny, and now faces charges for lying under oath.

Now there are the charges laid this week, which relate to Bonney’s role in the Quick Wins scandal – a cynical plan to score “quick wins” with ethnic voters in the lead-up to the 2013 election, and spend public resources working for the B.C. Liberal Party.

And those are just the ones who got caught.

Hiding information from the public is such an accepted part of the B.C. Liberal culture, even Transportation Minister Todd Stone casually admitted to regularly triple deleting – or destroying – his emails. And when B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner investigated the premier’s deputy chief of staff, she found this top Clark staffer had deleted every one of her emails from two years on the job.

This is the kind of work that preoccupies Christy Clark and her staff, and it’s disgraceful.

While people across this province struggle to afford a place to live, while schools across this province face closure, while frail seniors and kids in government care are being ignored by this government, the premier and her staff devote their time and energy to figuring out how to keep her out of trouble.

It’s an arrogant, secretive style of government – the kind of government that Canadians rejected in the last federal election. But it lives on here in B.C., where Premier Clark has hired many of Stephen Harper’s former staffers.

This was a sad week for politics in this province. And for many British Columbians I talked to, it was the last straw. They’re sick and tired of this government, and they’re sick and tired of the premier looking out for herself, her party and her friends, and putting British Columbians last.

Christy Clark wants British Columbians to think they have to accept the criminal charges, the secrecy, the big money corporate donors pay to have dinner with her.

She’s wrong.

British Columbians don’t have to settle for an out-of-touch premier and a government that thinks it’s above the law. We can, and we must, do better.

New Democrats are committed to real change. We’re committed to getting big money out of politics. We’re committed to taking real action on the things that matter to British Columbians, like affordability.

And we’re committed to governing with integrity.