Members of Vancouver's Chinese community are calling the actions of the B.C. Liberal Party "immoral" after a leaked document revealed a wide-ranging plan to win ethnic votes in the upcoming provincial election.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark apologized on Thursday for the language used in the Liberals' "Multicultural Strategy" document, which outlines "quick wins" such as making apologies for historical wrongs.
But Bill Chu, chair of the Canadian Reconciliation Society, said the apology was "not acceptable."
"In the leaked document, you can see the wording in it, how they want to manipulate our community — not just our community, but the entire multicultural community," Chu said at a news conference Friday.
"It's full of disrespect."
The documents leaked by the NDP were originally sent from the email address of a senior official in the premier's office in January last year. They reveal a proposed outreach plan involving the premier's office, the Multiculturalism Ministry, the government caucus and the B.C. Liberal Party.
Clark said she didn't know who crafted the controversial document and said she has asked her deputy minister to conduct a review to ensure no government resources were inappropriately used.
But the Vancouver Province newspaper says it has evidence showing that Clark's deputy chief of staff, Kim Haakstad, offered advice and input during the drafting stages of the plan.
While the federal government formally apologized in 2006 for the systemic exclusion of Chinese immigrants in Canada, Chu said the province has yet to fully acknowledge its role.
The Chinese in British Columbia have long struggled for equality. As soon as the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed in 1885, it was B.C. that pressured the federal government to pass laws to stop Chinese immigration. The province even collected half of the head-tax levies during some years.
Chu also stressed that many historical wrongs have continued to be committed against not only the Chinese community, but First Nations communities as well, including the disturbance of heritage sites in the province by mining and construction.
The province's Minister of Energy and Mines Rich Coleman read Clark's official apology during question period in the provincial legislature on Thursday.
"The document did not recognize there are lines that cannot be crossed in conducting this outreach, and it is unacceptable. The language in this draft document and some of the recommendations are absolutely inappropriate," the statement read.
"As a government, we have a responsibility to reach out to every community to ensure they are engaged and understand the services that are available to them."
The next provincial election in British Columbia is on May 14, 2013.