(Photo: At the unveiling of The Times of India Film Awards symbol last January in Vancouver: (left to right) actress Chitrangada Singh, The Times of India’s A.P. Parigi, producer Karan Johar, Premier Christy Clark and choreographer Shiamak Davar.)
THE Criminal Justice Branch, Ministry of Justice, announced on Thursday that a special prosecutor, David Butcher, a senior counsel with the private bar in Vancouver, has been appointed under the Crown Counsel Act to assist police with an ongoing investigation into alleged contraventions of the provincial Election Act in connection to the Draft Multicultural Strategic Outreach Plan of the Liberals.
The appointment of a special prosecutor was made on August 29 by the Assistant Deputy Attorney General for the Branch, Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten – the same day on which she received a request from the RCMP for the assistance of a special prosecutor.
Following receipt of a complaint in August 2013, the RCMP commenced an investigation into matters arising out of the Review of the Draft Multicultural Strategic Outreach Plan that was completed in March 2013 by John Dyble, Deputy Minister to Premier Christy Clark. The complaint also alleged Election Act irregularities for consideration by police.
As the investigation could include members of government and / or government employees, DeWitt-Van Oosten was satisfied, based on the material provided to her by the RCMP, that a special prosecutor was necessary to avoid any real or perceived improper influence in the advice given to police, or the exercise of prosecutorial discretion should charges be approved. Special prosecutors manage their assignments outside of the Ministry of Justice.
The announcement of the appointment was delayed by the Branch until this Thursday date at the specific request of the R.C.M.P. to safeguard the integrity of the investigation in its early stages.
NDP Leader Adrian Dix issued a statement, saying: “This investigation relates to concerns the Opposition raised repeatedly in the Legislature, as well as other serious issues.
“I thought these issues were sufficiently serious as to warrant an investigation. The RCMP has now undertaken one and a special prosecutor has been appointed.
“I raised these concerns in early August in a confidential letter to the RCMP, which laid out the grounds for our concerns.
“In order to ensure the integrity of the work of the Special Prosecutor and the RCMP, I will not provide any further details at this point.
“For the same reasons, I chose not to draw public attention to these concerns after I had written to the RCMP.
“At this stage, it is important to let the investigation run its course.”
Ben Chin, Premier Christy Clark’s Director of Communications, said in a statement: “It is inappropriate to comment during any ongoing investigation.
The Government of British Columbia respects this process, and will cooperate fully.
“Any citizen, including Mr. Dix, is free to file a complaint with the authorities.”
DAVID Butcher’s mandate includes the following:
* Discuss matters with the police investigators assigned to the case and offer such legal advice as they may require during the course of their investigation;
* Conduct an independent charge review of any Report to Crown Counsel which may be submitted by the investigative agency and make the charging decision as he deems appropriate in the exercise of his independent prosecutorial discretion.
His assessment is confined to potential offences under the Criminal Code and provincial regulatory offences. His decision should be made in accordance with
Criminal Justice Branch policies which are posted on the Internet at:
* Provide a written report to the Assistant Deputy Attorney General with the results of the [special prosecutor’s] review and the reasons for his decision; and
* If in his view a prosecution is warranted, conduct the prosecution and any subsequent appeal.
As this matter involves an ongoing police investigation and the potential for charge assessment, no additional information will be released at this time by either the Branch or the special prosecutor.