Hogg 'would welcome external review'
Government caucus chair Gordon Hogg says he is satisfied with the findings of the report by John Dyble, deputy minister to the premier, on the ethnic-vote scandal that has rocked the already-beleagured BC Liberals.
But the Surrey-White Rock MLA admits he had “an emotional response” to what the report revealed about the strategy and what many have termed cynical plans to sway ethnic voters.
Hogg – who also conducted an independent review of the role played by caucus staff in the preparation of the BC Liberals’ contentious Draft Multicultural Strategic Plan – says he fully agrees with recommendations of the Dyble report, released last week, particularly those suggesting further disciplinary action might be warranted and that a review and clarification of codes of conduct are necessary.
Hogg says he has no reason to doubt Premier Christy Clark’s assurances that the recommendations will be acted on “immediately.”
At the same time, he says he would welcome an external review of both BC Liberal and NDP caucuses to ensure that “blurring of the lines” between government business and partisan politics is avoided in the future.
Hogg acknowledged in an interview with Peace Arch News Monday that he had a “visceral” reaction as he read Dyble’s report, which outlined misuse of government funds, misconduct by public officials and deliberate use of private emails to cover wrongdoing in the development of a strategy to woo ethnic voters to the ranks of BC Liberal supporters.
Singled out for blame in the report were Kim Haakstad, former deputy chief of staff to Clark, and Brian Bonney, a former communications director.
Former multiculturalism minister John Yap was also held accountable for inappropriate actions of members of his staff who helped individuals with applications for government contracts as outreach workers.
Since the draft plan document was leaked and made public by the NDP in February, it caused a furor through its suggestions that apologies to ethnic minorities for past wrongs could be “quick wins” for the Liberal government.
“I had an emotional response to reading this,” Hogg said.
“How could these things be said? How could there be talk of ‘quick wins’? It’s so far from what I think, and what I believe the political process should be, and how it should be managed.”
Hogg said his review, as well as Dyble’s report, also found that some direction was given to caucus staff – inappropriately – by Haakstad.
Hogg said both reviews were conducted from a standpoint of seeing whether basic principles of conduct were breached and that it was important for action to be taken, not on rife speculation and rumour, but on “the best information we can have.”
Asked in a prior interview for his reaction to views that Clark bears responsibility for the document – and that there was a ‘culture’ of opportunism within the premier’s office that encouraged such strategy – Hogg said he believed Dyble’s review absolved Clark of direct involvement.
In fact, Dyble’s report says only that Clark, Yap and MLA Harry Bloy were interviewed as part of the review, and all “stated that they had never seen the draft strategy document or work plan until they were in the public domain.”
But Hogg said Monday he stands by his earlier position that he is not about to “second guess” Dyble’s report.
“He’s had much more experience than I have with this kind of thing,” he said. “He’s had a much clearer look at, and oversight, with all of the aspects that go into this.”
Hogg said, however, that he is expecting Clark to act swiftly on Dyble’s recommendations.
“That was the commitment made by the premier. She accepted all the recommendations and said she would act on all of them. I tend to believe people when they tell me things.
“But, as politicians, we should be held accountable for delivering on our commitments. It’s part of being accountable for the political process.”