Health Minister Adrian Dix’s newest aide is the New Westminster School Board chair under investigation for breaking the municipal election law last fall.
On May 1, cabinet appointed Gurveen Dhaliwal to the position of ministerial advisor, a job that pays between $66,900.01 and $94,600.06 annually.
On Oct. 5 at the Queensborough Community Centre voting station, the member of the NDP-allied Community First New Westminster party acted as a scrutineer on behalf of city council candidate Ruby Campbell.
Section 120(4) of the Local Government Act states: “a candidate must not be present at a voting place … while voting proceedings are being conducted,” except in order to vote. The law sets a maximum $5,000 fine and up to one year in jail upon conviction.
The oath of office for a school trustee, under the School Act, states: “I have not, by myself or any other person, knowingly contravened the School Act respecting vote buying, intimidation or other election offences in relation to my election as a trustee.”
New Westminster Police Department confirmed it forwarded a report to Crown counsel to decide whether to charge Dhaliwal.
“This matter is still under charge assessment,” Daniel McLaughlin, the communications counsel for the B.C. Prosecution Service, said May 4. “We do not have a firm timeline for completion and will not be commenting further at this time.”
Neither Dhaliwal, Dix nor Premier David Eby have responded for comment. McLaughlin would not say whether a special prosecutor has been considered.
“Historically, special prosecutors have been appointed in cases involving cabinet ministers, senior public or ministry officials, senior police officers, or persons in close proximity to these individuals,” said the Prosecution Service web page about special prosecutors.
Dhaliwal was spotted at the voting station by Jason Chan, campaign manager for the New West Progressives. Chan confirmed with the presiding election officer and chief election officer Jacque Killawee that Dhaliwal was acting as a scrutineer. Killawee’s email said that a complaint could be made to police for investigation and then referral to Crown counsel for possible prosecution. So Chan complained to NWPD on Oct. 9.
He said candidates were provided “extensive, comprehensive” handbooks on election rules and laws and it was not Dhaliwal’s first election. She won a seat on school board in 2018 and was re-elected Oct. 15. She is paid more than $28,000-a-year as chair.
Dhaliwal did not comment during the election campaign. Her party’s chair, Cheryl Greenhalgh, said Dhaliwal was at the voting station for less than an hour and regretted “the mistake.”
“It was a lapse of memory on Gurveen’s part that she could not be a scrutineer on behalf of another candidate,” said Greenhalgh’s statement.
Dhaliwal is a former constituency assistant to Burnaby-Lougheed NDP MLA Katrina Chen and she worked on Richmond-Queensborough NDP MLA Aman Singh’s 2020 campaign.
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