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Protesters demonstrate against the HST on the Victoria legislature's front lawn last august, before the Throne Speech announcing the harmonized tax.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

The second most senior official at Elections BC is out of a job, four months after the independent body ruled against mailing pro-harmonized sales tax brochures put out by the B.C. Liberals.

However, Linda Johnson, who has lost her job after 19 years of service as deputy chief electoral officer, said on Thursday the move has nothing to do with the decision to halt the mailing.

Ms. Johnson said she met with acting chief electoral officer Craig James on Tuesday and was shocked to learn that her 28 years at Elections BC would come to an end.

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"I was advised by Mr. James that he was reorganizing Elections BC and that my position as deputy chief electoral officer had been eliminated effective immediately," Ms. Johnson said from her home in Victoria. She has had the job since 1991.

She was among a handful of executives at Elections BC who ruled against allowing the government's pro-HST brochures to be mailed. The brochures were an effort by the B.C. Liberals to explain the HST, but Elections BC ruled that they were an indirect promotion.

"We have reviewed the mailer, consulted with legal counsel and find that it may be considered to be initiative advertising," Ms. Johnson wrote at the time.

She said on Thursday she would not make a connection between her loss of job and the decision against mailing out the brochures. "He said he was reorganizing Elections BC and I have no reason to think otherwise," Ms. Johnson said. "Organizations get restructured all the time."

Ms. Johnson's dismissal comes only three months after Elections BC lost its chief electoral officer, Harry Neufeld, in June.

"It's a lot of change for an organization," said Ms. Johnson, who is in the process of settling a severance package.

Mr. James was appointed acting CEO until an all-party commission decides on a permanent position in the coming months. Mr. James was not available for comment.

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"The acting CEO is restructuring the organization and eliminated that position as part of the restructuring," said spokesman Don Mills. He would not comment on other changes that Election BC may be making.

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