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News

Clark Gov't 'Quick Wins' Scandal: Key Witness Speaks

BC Liberal caucus ethnic outreach worker says she was unwitting tool of party's illegal strategy.

By Bob Mackin 11 Sep 2014 | TheTyee.ca

North Vancouver-based journalist Bob Mackin, a regular contributor to The Tyee, has reported for local, regional, national and international media outlets since 1990. Find his Tyee articles here.

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Sepideh Sarrapour: Slated to testify against two BC Liberal operatives accused of violating elections act.

The former BC Liberal caucus worker expected to be a key witness against two party strategists charged with Election Act violations said life has been emotionally and financially challenging since she quit almost two years ago.

Sepideh Sarrafpour, a BC Liberal caucus ethnic outreach contractor from Oct. 2011 to Oct. 2012, told The Tyee she was shunned by the party, potential employers and community groups for which she volunteered after she was unwittingly connected to the leaked Multicultural Outreach Strategy.

"I was going through hardship, really. I was almost for one year jobless, boycotted and blacklisted by Liberals," Sarrafpour told The Tyee. "When that email came out my situation got worse and worse, and nobody wanted to hire me, nobody wanted to give me a job."

The so-called leaked Quick Wins plan, aimed at holding onto power by gaining votes among ethnic groups, was revealed by the NDP in late Feb. 2013.

The Liberals chose to wait until after the election to release 10,000 pages of email correspondence about the strategy. Mixed in the heavily censored documents was a Sept. 18, 2012 email by former multiculturalism communications director Brian Bonney that referred to a potential bribe of Sarrafpour.

"Have [MLA] Harry Bloy meet with her and explain how doing anything would damage the Premier and the party. Have him say how he will try to find her work and get her back involved... If need be, offer x dollars per month to do non public work up to election [developing her database of potential supporters]."

Sarrafpour not charged

Sarrafpour quit in Oct. 2012 and was not charged. But Bonney, who left government before the scandal erupted, and BC Liberal field operations director Mark Robertson were on Sept. 8. They will appear in Vancouver Provincial Court on Oct. 14. The charges under the Election Act, related to by-election contributions, were recommended by special prosecutor David Butcher, whose investigation is ongoing.

The court documents allege Sarrafpour was provided by Bonney and Robertson to work on the unsuccessful by-election campaign of Port Moody-Coquitlam BC Liberal candidate Dennis Marsden in spring 2012.

Sarrafpour declined to answer questions about the infamous email or the Marsden campaign.

"I'm going to wait for the court," she said.

She said she was just as surprised as many British Columbians when the leaked Quick Wins document was released by the NDP. She said she realized the party used her for her connections in various ethnic organizations.

"They hired me and based on that they gave me my role, do this, do that, go to this event, you are building bridges between government and ethnic communities," she said.

"When someone leaked the strategic plan, at that time I found out that it was a strategy, a plan, for the job that I'm doing! It was one of the things that was bothering me, I was not involved, but my name was all over the media."  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics

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