Prosecutor wants community sentence in B.C. politics breach of trust case

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Brian Bonney

A special prosecutor says a former government communications director for British Columbia’s Liberal party should serve a community sentence of 12 to 23 months after he pleaded guilty to breach of trust.

Brian Bonney was charged in May 2016 for his involvement in a strategy to win ethnic votes for then-premier Christy Clark’s Liberals in the 2013 election.

Bonney pleaded guilty to the charge last October ahead of a trial that was scheduled to begin.

Special prosecutor David Butcher told a sentencing hearing Tuesday that Bonney provided confidential information to seven people he supervised as they worked to gain support from ethnic communities ahead of the election.

“The court should send a strong and clear message to those involved in politics that breach of trust will be treated in a serious manner,” Butcher said.

Bonney’s lawyer, Ian Donaldson, said the information his client shared “could be called confidential but was available to others. He shared that in appropriate circumstances for people to do their jobs properly.”

Donaldson said Bonney did not aim to benefit financially and his actions were not based on dishonesty or corruption.

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A report into the so-called quick wins strategy by the deputy minister to the premier at the time said there were two instances of misuse of government resources, including that Bonney was being paid as a government employee while he worked for the caucus and Liberal party.

The report, released in March 2013, said at least half of Bonney’s time was spent doing work for the Liberal party.

The party later reimbursed the government $70,000 as part of Bonney’s salary.

Clark, who left politics last year after the NDP formed a government, apologized for the plan in the legislature and John Yap, the multiculturalism minister, resigned his post.