John Dyble, the deputy minister to B.C. Premier Christy Clark, is expected to wrap up his investigation into the ethnic voter scandal within a week. He hasn't yet interviewed his boss, and it's not clear if he ever will.
If only from an optics standpoint, it's a problematic assignment. The investigation does lead to the premier's office. Ms. Clark's deputy chief of staff has already resigned after speaking with Mr. Dyble, but there are several other names still connected with Ms. Clark's team who are named in the leaked documents.
The multicultural outreach strategy proposed breaking down the walls between the B.C. Liberals and the government in the pursuit of winning ethnic voters over to Ms. Clark's party.
Mr. Dyble's task is to conduct interviews and review all documents and information to determine if any public resources were wrongly used to the party's advantage. The B.C. Liberals are bracing for a bill to compensate taxpayers. Right now, government insiders put the pricetag at a mere $7,000 – the cost of terminating several contractors who were apparently hired under the plan.
The NDP opposition is calling for an independent investigation, saying Mr. Dyble shouldn't be left to investigate his own employer and her closest associates. This is no official inquiry, so he cannot compel testimony from those who have left government, or those at party headquarters.
But that's not the only difficulty – even an outsider would be challenged to find the paper trail, because those involved went out of their way to try to keep the paperwork offline. The plan to court ethnic voters was distributed over private e-mail – and was only made public because someone kept the documents and leaked them.
There is a pattern here in the way Ms. Clark's office operates: Don't put anything that might be compromising in writing, or if you must, use private e-mail accounts to avoid freedom of information requests.
Those tactics were confirmed the last time the premier was forced to put her office under a microscope. Her chief of staff was accused of a personal indiscretion with a junior staffer. Two weeks later, once reporters started sniffing around the story, the premier accepted Ken Boessenkool's resignation. The premier maintains the investigation was carried out properly under the authority of the public service agency, but curiously this was accomplished without a paper trail.
Ms. Clark needs Mr. Dyble to produce a credible report so that she can try to put this behind her before she must face the polls on May 14. It is likely his toughest challenge since he took the job in her office two years ago.
Justine Hunter is The Globe's B.C. legislative reporter in Victoria.