News / Vancouver

'Insidious damage': Liberal operative sentenced to 9 months in 'quick wins' breach of trust

Former party operations director Brian Bonney only person convicted over scheme using his government job to get B.C. Liberal ethnic votes.

Former B.C. Liberal operations director and government staffer Brian Bonney leaves court in Vancouver after being sentenced for breach of trust on Wednesday

David P. Ball / Metro

Former B.C. Liberal operations director and government staffer Brian Bonney leaves court in Vancouver after being sentenced for breach of trust on Wednesday

The former operations director of the B.C. Liberal Party and one of its executive members has been sentenced to nine months of house arrest by a judge after pleading guilty to breach of trust in the so-called "quick wins" scandal.

The scheme involved him using his one-year government civil servant job as multiculturalism outreach staffer to promote and build support for the B.C. Liberals, in breach of rules forbidding partisan politicking using taxpayer funds.

Bonney received his sentence Wednesday afternoon, but provincial court Justice David St. Pierre spoke at length about previous cases, and quoted another judge statement that "corruption is like gangrene."

"The appropriate sentence is a jail sentence to be served in the community," St. Pierre said. "Nine months of duration."

It includes nightly curfew in his residence unless he's at his workplace, community service, and being forced to check in with authorities. "Because it is a jail sentence in the community, you shall not consume or posses alcohol or drugs." And if he breaches his conditions, St. Pierre added, "You can be brought back to the court and have your conditional sentence terminated and be required to serve the balance of your sentence in a real jail institution."

Brian Bonney walks away from court after being sentenced Wednesday, without answering any of Metro's questions for several blocks.

David P. Ball/Metro

Brian Bonney walks away from court after being sentenced Wednesday, without answering any of Metro's questions for several blocks.

"There’s an expectation our public service will not work to serve a certain political party rather than serving all the citizens," St. Pierre said Wednesday in court, before delivering his sentence. "… (Bonney) breached the trust that British Columbians gave him."

Bonney was a key figure in a scheme that saw taxpayer resources, meant only for public not partisan work, used to woo immigrant communities to support B.C. Liberals and then-Premier Christy Clark, for instance by apologizing for historical wrongs, considered election "quick wins."

Judge David St. Pierre read out an email Bonney sent one of his subordinates, who were wooing party support from ethnic community leaders. When one of those leaders criticized the initiative, Bonney told his staff:

"We are doing this for future generations, for a Better B.C." Bonney wrote. "If he does not see this and wants a socialist B.C. it’s his loss and time to move on."

In another email, the judge read from evidence, then-Minister of State for Multiculturalism Harry Bloy's office told Bonney to not be discouraged by certain ethnic communities' concerns.

"After a less positive meeting with the Tanzanian community, Mr Bonney was directed by the minister’s office to ‘not bother with some demographics that would not likely or absolutely never support us,'" the email stated.

St. Pierre described "the insidious damage caused by offenses such as this one" to the public's trust in their governments, and described it as "a kind of political corrupttion" even though "he was not the architect of the scheme that he implemented."

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