B.C. Solicitor General Kash Heed, a veteran police officer who vaulted into politics and became the province's top law-enforcement official, has resigned from cabinet after learning he is going to be questioned by the RCMP about alleged violations of the Elections Act in his campaign office.
Mr. Heed looked composed and relaxed in jeans and a sweat shirt as he told a news conference at his constituency office he "absolutely" expects to return to cabinet once he is cleared.
"I am hoping to come back and serve the people of B.C.," he said Friday, sitting behind a desk.
Mr. Heed said he learned in March the RCMP was investigating the matter. This week, he was told investigators wanted to interview him to see if he had a role in the allegations which the Mounties say may involve more than one person.
The former Vancouver police department superintendent, who was chief of the department in West Vancouver when he decided to run as the MLA in Vancouver-Fraserview, said he then decided to resign even though he maintains that he's done nothing wrong and expects to be cleared.
Mr. Heed said he had no idea who the focus of the investigation is and denied having any role in monitoring his campaign finances in last year's provincial election. "We had qualified people in place to do that," he said.
RCMP Inspector Tim Shields, speaking for the department, said a report to Crown counsel will be submitted within a year.
Premier Gordon Campbell said Mr. Heed's policy priorities, which include reforms to the Police Act and possible regulations on backcountry snowmobile use, would carry on under Mike de Jong, the attorney general who has been appointed to also handle Mr. Heed's responsibilities on an interim basis.
"We'll be carrying on with agenda laid out by the solicitor general," the Premier said in an interview.
Mr. Campbell said he would like to see Mr. Heed back in his cabinet if the police clear him. "If he has done nothing wrong, I would welcome him back. He has been a good solicitor general."
Mr. Heed is the third consecutive B.C. solicitor general forced out of office due to legal matters.
John Les resigned in 2008 amid disclosures he was caught in an RCMP investigation over land deals while he was mayor of the Fraser Valley city of Chilliwack. John van Dongen quit in April, 2009, over the disclosure that speeding tickets had cost him his drivers' license.
Mike Farnworth, the NDP critic for Mr. Heed's former portfolio, called it a "disturbing" trend and said he found the whole situation shocking. "(Mr. Heed) was touted as one of the bright stars of the Gordon Campbell administration."
Mr. Heed said he decided to leave his post "out of the respect and regard for the office of Solicitor General of British Columbia and to ensure the continued integrity of that office."
Throughout his news conference, he repeatedly said he had done nothing wrong, squeezing the assertion into his responses to most questions.
Mr. Heed said he will continue to serve as an MLA and declined to discuss the substance of the RCMP investigation saying that would not be appropriate.
The Criminal Justice Branch said Friday that Vancouver lawyer Terrence Robertson was appointed Special Prosecutor on the case on Jan. 12, in response to a request by the RCMP.
Mr. Heed's entrance into politics came coupled with controversy when it was learned the West Vancouver police board had dropped a complaint against him because he had resigned before it was filed.
Mr. Heed had been accused of interfering in a child-pornography investigation by disclosing information to a police-board member who worked at the same company as the suspect.
After the police board dropped the issue, the complaint went before the B.C. Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner, but after a review that body determined the police act doesn't apply to ex-officers.
Mr. Heed began his policing career with the Vancouver Police Department where he moved through the ranks of constable, detective, sergeant, inspector and superintendent, while also completing his BA and MA at Simon Fraser University. He created the VPD's Gang Violence Task Force and was head of the drug squad.
Mr. Heed became Chief of the West Vancouver Police in 2007, and two years later was elected in the riding of Vancouver-Fraserview, and appointed to the B.C. cabinet. His portfolio made him responsible for crime prevention, law enforcement, victim services, road safety and emergency preparedness, among other things.
He stated in an article last year that he has often been guided in his career by his late mother, who had told him on entering policing: "Don't try to be popular; just keep doing the right thing."