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Special prosecutor appointed to decide whether NDP aide should be charged

Crown counsel has been investigating an election violation by New Westminster's current school board chair, who is also employed as an NDP ministerial aide
Gurveen Dhaliwal works in the office of Labour Minister Harry Bains and serves as chair of New Westminster's school board

An official in the attorney general’s ministry has quietly appointed a special prosecutor to the investigation of an election violation by the New Westminster school board chair who was named an aide to Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Gurveen Dhaliwal was appointed by cabinet order on May 1 to work as a ministerial assistant in Dix’s office. Two weeks later, another cabinet order announced her transfer to the office of Labour Minister Harry Bains. Dix, Bains and Premier David Eby did not respond for comment about the reason for her transfer. 

On Friday, the BC Prosecution Service announced that assistant deputy attorney general Peter Juk had appointed lawyer John Gordon on May 4 to provide legal advice to investigators and decide whether Dhaliwal should be charged. The prosecution service did not explain why it chose a Friday afternoon, almost three weeks after Gordon’s appointment, for the announcement. 

Dhaliwal won re-election to the school board last fall with the Community First New West party. But, during the campaign, the campaign manager for the rival New West Progressives party spotted Dhaliwal at the Queensborough polling station. Jason Chan confirmed that Dhaliwal was acting as a scrutineer, contrary to the Local Government Act section that states candidates may only attend a polling station to vote. The law sets a maximum $5,000 fine and up to one year in jail upon conviction. 

Dhaliwal has not responded for comment. Before election day, party chair Cheryl Greenhalgh blamed Dhaliwal’s scrutineering on a “lapse of memory” and said that she regretted “the mistake.”

New Westminster election officials referred Chan to the New Westminster Police Department, which investigated and forwarded a report to Crown counsel for charge assessment. 

The prosecution service’s website states: “Historically, special prosecutors have been appointed in cases involving cabinet ministers, senior public or ministry officials, senior police officers, or persons in close proximity to these individuals.”

Dhaliwal was also subject to the School Act’s oath of office, which states: “I have not, by myself or any other person, knowingly contravened the School Act respecting vote buying, intimidation or other election offences in relation to my election as a trustee.”

Dhaliwal is a former constituency assistant to Burnaby-Lougheed NDP MLA Katrina Chen and she worked on Richmond-Queensborough NDP MLA Aman Singh’s 2020 campaign. Her current pay rate has not been announced, but the cabinet order indicated the annual compensation range is between $66,900.01 and $94,600.06.

A February 2021 cabinet order announced her hiring as executive assistant for Minister of State for Infrastructure Bowinn Ma at $66,300 a year.