British Columbia's Premier Christy Clark is in hot waters over leaked ethnic vote winning strategy.
While the so-called 'ethnic vote' scandal continues to dog B.C. Premier Christy Clark and the Liberal Party, the government survived a more immediate problem - a vote on the second reading of the provincial budget, which passed Tuesday.
The Liberal majority in the legislature is now secured by only a few MLAs, and without MLA Kash Heed taking his seat due to family matters, the Liberal margin was down to just four votes.
The budget passed with 45 MLAs in favour and 38 opposed.
The budget will still have to pass a third reading before becoming official.
Losing the second reading vote would likely have meant an early election.
Clark announced Monday that Multiculturalism Minister John Yap was leaving his cabinet post while her deputy minister, John Dyble, undertook an investigation into the leaked government strategy to woo ethnic voters.
The news came after the premier's then-deputy chief of staff Kim Haakstad, who helped draft the 17-page Multicultural Strategic Outreach Plan more than a year ago, announced she was stepping down on Friday.
Clark has apologized three times for the document, which was leaked by the NDP in the legislature, and the language used in it. The plan made several proposals to entice ethnic voters in the run-up to the May provincial election. It also suggested government resources could be used.
Clark had said there may be more action based on the outcome of the report, but she wouldn't detail what action might need to be taken.
While forcing out the premier and B.C. Liberal Party leader just 10 weeks before an election might sound unlikely, Clark told reporters Monday that all options were on the table.
But on Tuesday, she dismissed the possibility that she might resign following the result of Dyble's investigation. When asked whether the "further action" she referred to could include stepping down, she told reporters: "No, it won't."
Heed acknowledged there is division in the caucus over Clark's leadership, spurred on by the leaked document.
"She's the leader of the Liberal party and I am a member of that party right now, and I think we'll leave it to the people of B.C. to see whether or not she remains the premier of British Columbia and has the right to govern," he said.
Meanwhile, Indo-Canadian members of the B.C. Liberal party are calling for the resignation of Premier Christy Clark for making "the ethnic vote a joke in B.C."
A group of mostly Indo-Canadian members of the B.C. Liberal party are calling for the resignation of Premier Christy Clark for making "the ethnic vote a joke in B.C."
A news release Sunday says 89 members of the party from Surrey decided to call for Clark's resignation over her decision to spend taxpayer dollars on the Times of India Film Awards, "which has no relevance in B.C. economy, culture or adaptation."
The call comes as Clark is set to face her cabinet in an emergency meeting Sunday afternoon to address growing internal unrest over how she reacted to the scandal that erupted Wednesday over a proposed strategy to woo the ethnic vote.
The NDP released a leaked Liberal memo that set out a strategy to use government resources to help the party gain support from ethnic voters in the coming election.
On Friday, Clark's deputy chief of staff Kim Haakstad resigned over the issue.
Vikram Bajwa, a former Surrey mayoral candidate and spokesman for the group, said the party members "strongly feel" Clark's decision to bid for the Times of India awards was an extension the Liberals' strategy to woo ethnic voters in advance of the May election.
The awards, which recognize popular Bollywood films, will cost B.C. taxpayers about $11 million. They are to be held in Vancouver April 4 to 6. Bajwa said contacts in India have informed him Clark had wanted to bid for the Times of India event rather than the competing International Indian Film Awards - a more established event equivalent to the Academy Awards - because the latter would be held in June, after the provincial election.
"Why should an average B.C. resident pay through their tax dollars $11 million to $15 million for a bunch of Indian movie stars to come here for a day?" Bajwa said.
"We felt as Liberal members that this is going to backlash on our Indo-Canadian community during the run-up to and after the election. Most of the Indo-Canadian candidates in the Lower Mainland, they feel that they would lose because of this issue."
Bajwa said there are about 10 seats in Surrey that will be decided by ethnic voters.
"We have to be very blunt that the buck doesn't stop with Kim (Haakstad), Premier Christy Clark ... is the only elected official, she's the premier who made the deal in Bombay for the Times of India Awards. She should be coming forward and show some leadership qualities and resign," Bajwa said.
Failure on Clark's part to do so would be "handing the B.C. government to the NDP on a silver platter."
Bajwa added hundreds of Liberal party members based in Surrey were meeting at Sikh temples around the city Sunday to discuss the scandal.