Richmond-Steveston MLA John Yap has resigned his cabinet role as Multiculturalism Minister until a review of the so-called “Ethnic-gate” controversy is completed.
Yap’s shock departure was announced Monday in the Legislature by Premier Christy Clark as she once more apologized after a strategy to win ethnic votes, created by government staff, was leaked last week.
Clark said Yap has stepped down until the review is completed by the premier’s deputy minister.
The premier refused to elaborate on why Yap has left the cabinet post, adding only that Minister of State for Seniors, Ralph Sultan, would be taking over Yap's duties.
Yap did not return a News call Monday, but he told reporters in Victoria that he was taking full responsibility for the contents of the report.
“This involves multiculturalism and the responsibility rests with me as the minister responsible for multiculturalism,” he said.
Yap said he doesn’t know the author of the report, but since it falls under his ministry, he would step down until the review into the ethnic voter strategy is complete. He added that he is confident the report will clear him of any wrongdoing.
“I was caught completely off guard by this document,” said Yap. “The document never hit my desk and some of the ideas in there and language used are completely unacceptable.”
The leaked government strategy was written a full three months before Yap was even named Multiculturalism Minister.
Yap's departure is the second resignation related to the ethnic outreach scandal. The premier's longtime adviser and deputy chief of staff, Kim Haakstad, resigned Friday.
The draft multicultural outreach plan, dated 2012, appears to show officials in the premier's office, the multiculturalism ministry, and the Liberal caucus collaborating to use taxpayer resources to help the B.C. Liberal Party attract voters in ethnic communities and improve the chance of winning key ridings in the election.
The document also encouraged the provincial government to offer apologies for historical wrongs to ethnic communities as "quick wins" for the Liberal party.
Clark continued to insist the premier's office did not draft the document, though Haakstad did oversee its development.
Ralph Sultan, the minister of state for seniors, is taking over Yap's duties.
With a file from the Vancouver Sun