Amid Liberal ethnic vote scandal, Chong will remain on ballot

Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA, cabinet minister stands behind Premier Christy Clark

Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong says the recent firestorm in the Liberal party sparked by a leaked memo on engaging ethnic voters hasn’t changed her mind to run in the May provincial election.

“When I decided I would seek another term, it was because I felt my work was not yet done,” Chong said Wednesday. “That has not changed today.”

She says voters should wait to pass judgment on Premier Christy Clark and the government’s role in the scandal until an internal investigation is complete.

That said, Chong said she stands 100 per cent behind the premier, and asserts that Clark is the best leader for the Liberals heading into the election.

“I don’t want to diminish the necessity of getting to the bottom of this, but only once we have those facts, at that point we will be in a position to take action, whether collectively (as the Liberal party) or individually (as an MLA),” Chong said.

The January 2012 draft strategy memo, leaked to the NDP, discusses ways to improve the governing party’s popularity with immigrant communities, including a plan to apologize in the legislature this month for the “head tax” on Chinese immigrants, imposed by Ottawa from 1885 to 1935. Such apologies are proposed in the strategy memo as “quick wins” before the May 14 provincial election.

“I am Chinese. I do believe that people should know that the matter of having an apology is not a new matter that just appeared in some document – it’s something that’s been done for a number of years,” said Chong, minister of aboriginal relations and reconciliation. “It is distressing that it somehow got caught up in this memo.”

Premier Clark ordered the internal investigation last week. John Dyble, head of the public service, is to examine whether government resources were used to help deliver ethnic votes to the B.C. Liberals.

– with files from Tom Fletcher

kslavin@saanichnews.com