A former government communications director has been given a nine-month conditional sentence for using his public job to woo ethnic votes for British Columbia’s Liberal party.
Provincial court Judge David St. Pierre said Brian Bonney made “certain choices” that landed him in court.
Bonney’s lawyer told a sentencing hearing earlier this month that his client was an instrument of others in the scandal, including senior officials in former premier Christy Clark’s office.
St. Pierre told Bonney on Wednesday that citizens expect public servants to work for everyone, not a particular political party.
“The message in this case, at least to be passed on to other public servants in similar situations, is there might well be unfair and undeserved consequences for saying ‘No’ to the minister but those consequences, I’m sure I hope you agree, pale in comparison to what you’re having to go through,” the judge said.
The conditional sentence will be served in the community and Bonney will live under a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. He must also do 60 hours of community service work.
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Bonney pleaded guilty to breach of trust last October in the so-called quick wins scandal for the partisan use of taxpayer money in an attempt to attract support from minority groups.
Special prosecutor David Butcher presented a series of emails during the sentencing hearing showing Bonney used a private account to communicate with liaison workers who were tasked with gaining support from various ethnic organizations before the 2013 election.
Butcher said the plan to win ethnic votes involved a “cynical purpose” that had no aim to legitimately engage minority groups. He had asked the court to impose a 12 to 23 month community sentence.
Bonney’s lawyer, Ian Donaldson, called for a suspended sentence, saying his client crossed a line but was directed to do so.
After the scandal broke, Clark appointed her deputy minister to conduct a review and it concluded public officials misused government resources. It said Bonney was among those who spent a considerable amount of time during his workday on party activities and used private emails.
Clark apologized and the Liberals returned $70,000 of taxpayers’ money.
The Canadian Press