B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell says the surprise resignation of Kash Heed as solicitor general is regrettable but necessary, given the revelation of an RCMP investigation into Heed’s 2009 provincial campaign.
“You never like any of this sort of thing to happen,” Campbell told CBC News on Friday. “But I think what’s really important is that Kash has acted in the public interest here.”
Heed resigned after revealing the RCMP is investigating his campaign for what police later said was alleged violations of campaign financing and advertising rules during the election in May 2009.
“Kash has done exactly what you would expect from someone who has dedicated his lifetime to law enforcement,” Campbell said. “He has done what he thinks is best for his job to protect the integrity of the activities that are taking place with the RCMP.”
Heed told a news conference Friday that he had done nothing wrong, expected to have his name cleared and hoped to return to cabinet but that resigning was the best course.
“Out of the respect and regard for the office of solicitor general of British Columbia … the appropriate action is to step aside pending the outcome of this investigation,” Heed said.
New Democrat Mike Farnworth said the scandal is another sign the government is in disarray.
“These are disturbing allegations. This particular solicitor general was supposed to have been one of the government’s bright lights.”
Will stay on as MLA
The RCMP would not say Friday if Heed was personally under investigation, but that he would be interviewed by police.
“One aspect of this investigation involves election advertising and financing,” said Insp. Tim Shields on Friday. “[The] offences … allegedly involved the campaign office of Minister Kash Heed.”
Shields said the RCMP began its investigation in June 2009 after police were informed of a complaint made to the province’s electoral officer about an alleged campaign irregularity.
A special prosecutor has been appointed by B.C.’s criminal justice branch in light of the RCMP investigation, Heed said.
B.C. Attorney General Michael de Jong is taking over the solicitor general’s duties on an interim basis, Campbell said.
Heed said he would continue to serve as MLA for the riding of Vancouver-Fraserview
Third solicitor general forced out
Heed is the third consecutive Liberal solicitor general in the last two years to be forced out of cabinet because of a controversy.
John Les resigned in March 2008 after it was announced that a special prosecutor was investigating his activities while he was mayor of Chilliwack in the 1990s.
The special prosecutor has not yet filed a report.
John van Dongen quit the post in April 2009 after it was revealed he’d lost his driver’s licence for having too many speeding tickets.
Heed is a former police chief of West Vancouver and was first elected as a B.C. Liberal MLA in the May 2009 ballot.
In his 10 months in office, Heed was frequently in the headlines, announcing new provincial initiatives such as a ban on cellphone use while driving, tougher impaired driving laws and reforms to combat domestic violence.
He also pledged to help B.C. search and rescue societies that had encountered problems getting third-party insurance, which threatened their ability to carry out rescues.
After a series of fatal avalanches in B.C., Heed said the province was considering new regulations for backcountry snowmobile use.