The BC Liberals controversial multicultural strategic outreach plan had its limits.
The 2011-conceived blueprint, better known as Quick Wins, contemplated pandering to ethnic groups in a bid to win swing ridings in the 2013 election.
Ethnic groups that weren’t expected to deliver many votes, memberships or donations were deemed expendable, according to Provincial Court evidence obtained by theBreaker.
BC Liberal operative Brian Bonney, who worked as a government communications director, pleaded guilty to breach of public trust and was sentenced Jan. 31 to a nine-month conditional sentence.
Special prosecutor David Butcher, during last month’s sentencing hearing, told Judge David St. Pierre that “One particular community outreach effort deserves special note because it exposes the partisan nature of the community liaison program.”
Sepideh Sarrafpour, who had been subcontracted for the party by Bonney’s numbered company, arranged a spring 2012 meeting between multiculturalism minister John Yap and Tanzanian community leaders and members of the Swahili-speaking community.
“The meeting apparently did not go well,” Butcher said. “Yap complained to Bonney: ‘As we move forward I think it more prudent for our team to be more discerning of groups we reach out to do as to better spend our somewhat limited time resources’.”
In a June 13, 2012 email about “Yesterday’s roundtable with Tanzanian community,” Bonney wrote to Yap: “I re-enforced that quality has to win over quantity.”
Yap responded, using a personal email account: “Noted. She may need more coaching on ‘demographics’ and ‘politics’. She has a big heart and nature; she’s probably too ‘inclusive’ or too ‘optimistic’ about people/what profiles of people support or could support the centre right — we should focus on the 60% and essentially not bother with some demographics that will not likely or absolutely never support us, eg. ‘Homeless people’ or ‘people dependent on social supports’, who tend to be left leaning or outright socialist We (our team) do not have the time resources to chase every single group out there that is ‘cordial’ with her. She should be more ruthless in deciding who has ‘good potential’ and who has ‘little or none’.
“Now, with the Swahili roundtable, we have been ‘exposed’ to some dipper operatives (the neighbourhood house ladies and City of Vancouver Multi person) though I think the risk is manageable with the approach I took in messaging them. Brian: please continue to focus her on more quality versus quantity. I appreciate what you do in managing her. Thanks.”
Bonney conveyed Yap’s comments to Sarrafpour, despite Yap asking not to.
“I believe you need to know what makes him happy and not so happy,” Bonney wrote.
What Yap meant about his comments, Bonney said, “is that these people are not so wealthy (MAYBE??) and there (sic) social status suggests that they would not support us anyway.”
In telling Sarrafpour to work hard on having less events with better quality, Bonney told her to delete the message after reading. It is not clear whether Sarrafpour disobeyed and this was one of the documents she provided the RCMP, or if it was among many emails that detectives obtained directly from Google.
Later that summer, an embarrassing incident at an Afghan Heritage days event. A Sept. 6, 2012 email from Bonney to Sarrafpour, Yap, caucus communications director Ben James and caucus executive director Primrose Carson described how a backbench MLA was woefully unprepared for his audience.
“Just a heads up that at the Afghan Heritage days event [Burnaby North MLA] Richard Lee went on stage and started talking about Persians and Iran — the community was baffled an shocked,” Bonney wrote. “Sepideh went to the back of the stage and pulled the plug on the power but too late (when Raj Chouhan went up!). I think we need to have someone talk to Richard about being sure he knows who he is talking to. Just a heads up as this could be very damaging if it happens more often.”
Yap and his predecessor Harry Bloy did not cooperate with the RCMP investigation into Quick Wins, on advice of their lawyers. Had the case proceeded to trial, they would likely have been ordered by the court to testify.
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