Premier Christy Clark said Friday she wants answers quickly a day after ordering an investigation into a leaked 2012 memo outlining Liberal plans to target ethnic voters with public money.
"I hope it will be done as quickly as possible, but it also has to be properly done," Clark said of the investigation headed by the premier's deputy minister John Dyble. "In the rush to get it done, I want to make sure Mr. Dyble doesn't miss any details. We're trying to find that balance, but I do hope it will be very, very soon."
The memo, which Clark insists was never acted upon, outlined how the Liberals could use government money to further their political gains among ethnic voters. The document came to light Wednesday when the NDP began asking questions about it in the legislature.
Clark issued a written apology Thursday, but said she knew nothing of the scheme prior to this week.
"Things happen in politics. [People] make mistakes, they make bad judgment calls and clearly that's happened at the staff level," she said. "But when it came to the political level, I was never involved, I didn't know about it until Wednesday when it was brought forward in the house."
Dyble laid out the terms of reference for his investigation on Friday and tapped three others senior civil servants to aide in his review. Clark said the investigation is to "make doubly sure that there was absolutely no mixing of public money for partisan purposes, because that is just wrong."
NDP house leader John Horgan applauded the broad scope of the probe, but is concerned the civil servants investigating won't have access to party officials implicated in the creation of the memo.
"Absent subpoena powers and search warrants, I don't believe Mr. Dyble would be able to access that information," Horgan told the Victoria Times Colonist.
Horgan said given the amount of information that needs to be investigated, he would be surprised if the investigation is complete by the end of the legislative session on March 14 but he hopes it will be made public prior to the election.
Clark has also faced criticism for not apologizing for the memo in the legislature, delegating that duty to deputy premier Rich Coleman on Thursday. Clark was absent from Victoria due to previously scheduled meetings in Vancouver.
"It's not as easy to get back and forth all the time," she said. "I did make a point of ensuring my deputy premier presented it in the house and also making myself available to media all day [Thursday]."
Clark also continued her defence of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Minister Pat Bell and his handling of the Wood Innovation and Design Centre. She said the procurement was handled by civil servants and is above board, despite the protestations of local businessmen Dan McLaren and Brian Fehr.
"I know that there's some people complaining about the outcome," Clark said. "It wasn't the outcome they liked, but it was a fair outcome, it was the right outcome and it was a completely non-partisan, non-political outcome and I think that's what people want."
Despite all the turmoil, Clark said her party is united heading into the May 14 general election.
"As a group, we've worked together through a lot of issues," she said. "We are really focused on making sure we can secure B.C.'s economy and win this election and we do that as a team."