Illegal election pamphlets at the heart of a police investigation that prompted solicitor general Kash Heed's resignation were deliberately targeted at non-Liberal, Chinese-Canadian voters to sway critical votes in Mr. Heed's riding during the 2009 provincial election, defeated NDP candidate Gabriel Yiu charged yesterday.
The strident, anti-NDP leaflets, which produced an uproar among the riding's large Chinese-Canadian population during the last few days of the campaign, may have been a decisive factor in his loss to Mr. Heed by 748 votes, Mr. Yiu said.
"I can't prove that, but I do know my numbers were very good until the last week. If this sort of thing is allowed, I doubt that I would run again. I can't compete against these kind of dirty tricks."
An NDP complaint to Elections BC over the campaign material has led to an ongoing RCMP investigation. Mr. Heed resigned on Friday, after learning the police probe would include his role, if any, in alleged violations of the province's Elections Act.
The controversial, garish leaflets, in Chinese and English, were mailed to homes of Chinese Canadians already identified as pro-NDP or undecided voters, while residences of strong supporters of Mr. Heed and his Liberal Party did not appear to receive the material, Mr. Yiu said.
Complete with pictures of syringes, coffins and known criminals, the leaflets accused the NDP of wanting to legalize heroin and prostitution, and bring in hefty inheritance taxes. They were quickly banned by Elections BC because the distributors were not identified.
But many leaflets still came through the mailbox to Chinese-speaking voters in the Vancouver-Fraserview riding at the tail end of the bitter tussle between Mr. Yiu and Mr. Heed. Non-Liberal Chinese Canadians also received emotional telephone calls in Cantonese, preaching the same anti-NDP message.
"That means someone had very precise information on names, addresses, telephone numbers, racial background and voting preferences," Mr. Yiu said. "I'm not accusing [Mr. Heed's campaign] but I would like to know who else would have such precise information."
His campaign manager, Dwaine Martin, noted that most of the material showed up in the campaign's last weekend.
"That meant there was no time for us to respond to their outrageous, over-the-top statements on issues we had already identified as being important to Chinese Canadians, and it appeared that the spread of the leaflets was deliberately targeted," Mr. Martin said.
"Whoever sent out those flyers was politically sophisticated enough to understand all that, and that the Chinese electorate was going to be a deciding factor in that riding. The whole thing was just about as sleazy as it gets. At the time, I asked the Liberals to denounce the leaflets, and they refused."
A Richmond firm, North American Mailing, has been identified as the company that arranged for the flyers to be sent through the mail, but owner Dinesh Khanna has refused to say who paid for their distribution.
The Vancouver Sun reported on Saturday that Mr. Khanna's son Amit worked on Mr. Heed's campaign.
B.C. election regulations require that third-party advertisers register with Elections BC.
The only identifying tag on the anti-NDP flyers read: "Authorized. Registered sponsor under the Elections Act". After the NDP complained, election officials determined the tag was bogus, and ordered Canada Post not to send them out. But many made it to Vancouver-Fraserview doorsteps.
In his letter of resignation, Mr. Heed, a veteran police officer and former West Vancouver police chief, said he was confident that he had done nothing wrong. Neither he nor anyone from his 2009 campaign could be contacted yesterday.