Bloy quits B.C. cabinet over e-mail leak, will not run again
Burnaby-Lougheed MLA Harry Bloy has resigned from cabinet after leaking a reporter's e-mail to a company that operates private schools.
Premier Christy Clark also told reporters Bloy will not run in the next election, set for May 2013.
The Vancouver Province newspaper was questioning the B.C. government about complaints about three private colleges run by Eminata Group. Bloy admitted Wednesday he shared an e-mail from a Province reporter with the company's CEO, and apologized for doing so. Thursday Bloy was not in the legislature, and his office issued a brief statement saying he has resigned as Minister of State for Multiculturalism.
In the legislature Thursday, opposition MLAs focused on the fact that Eminata founder Peter Chung has donated $14,000 to the B.C. Liberal Party. NDP house leader John Horgan said the e-mail in question was sent to the office of Minister of Advanced Education Naomi Yamamoto, whose ministerial assistant passed it on to Bloy's office. Yamamoto, MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale, should also resign from cabinet, Horgan said.
Premier Christy Clark said cabinet ministers are entitled to share confidential information with each other, and Yamamoto did nothing wrong.
"In our government we do expect both ministers and staff to behave honourably, and in this case the minister who acted inappropriately has done so," Clark said in reference to Bloy's resignation.
Eminata Group operates six for-profit schools in B.C., including University Canada West, Vancouver Career College and CDI College. The newspaper's investigation related to complaints from students of those colleges, and an earlier investigation of schools operated by Chung in California.
Yamamoto told the legislature the e-mail in question contained her ministry's responses to questions about the schools. She said a printout of the e-mail was passed to Bloy's office on Feb. 20.
"I was not aware of that, nor did I direct that," Yamamoto said. "I have since learned that the Minister of State for Multiculturalism passed it on to a representative of Eminata. That was wrong."
Bloy was the lone B.C. Liberal MLA to support Clark's bid for the party leadership last year. He was appointed to cabinet as social development minister, but later shuffled to the multiculturalism post after struggling to respond to complaints about the operation of Community Living B.C., the provincial agency responsible for services to developmentally disabled adults.
Burnaby-Edmonds New Democrat MLA Raj Chouhan said Bloy did the right thing.
But there are several questions that remain unanswered, he said, such as why the email was given to Bloy and "why he gave it to a Liberal donor who was being investigated by the media?"
Calling the incident a "very serious issue," he said, "It appears that he may have put the private interests of a Liberal Party donor ahead of a broader public interest."
He also questioned what ties Bloy had to Eminata and added that Yamamoto should also step down.
"The Minister of Advanced Education has to take responsibility and she should also resign ... There's no other way around it."
Chouhan said he's never heard of anything similar happening before.
"This is the last day before spring break, and the way it ended, you should have seen the faces of these Liberals and the premier in the house. They were just really shellshocked. They didn't know what to respond and now they're sent off trying to minimize the damage, but the damage is already done."
~ with files from Wanda Chow