A former school board trustee from Metro Vancouver who later became a provincial government adviser will not be charged for allegedly violating election laws, the British Columbia Prosecution Service said Thursday (July 6).
The service had tapped a special prosecutor in May to give legal advice on the investigation of Gurveen Dhaliwal, who served as a trustee in New Westminster before being named as an adviser to Health Minister Adrian Dix on May 1.
The investigation stemmed from Dhaliwal’s presence as a scrutineer during the same election last November in which she was running for a second term.
The Local Government Act prohibits candidates from being in voting places for any purpose other than casting a ballot.
Special Prosecutor John Gordon found Dhaliwal’s presence as a scrutineer likely contravened the provisions of the act.
But he declined to charge her for violations because the “charge assessment standard” had not been met, the prosecution service said in a statement.
Gordon concluded that Dhaliwal’s brief stint as a scrutineer constituted “a genuine mistake or misunderstanding of fact,” the service said.
“During the police investigation Ms. Dhaliwal stated that she was unaware that, as a candidate, she was prohibited from being present at the voting place for any purpose other than casting her own ballot,” it said.
“This fact was not noticed or brought to her attention when she presented her candidate representation form to the Presiding Election Official at the voting place and was permitted to remain as a scrutineer.”
Dhaliwal did not serve as a scrutineer for long, about 20 minutes, and “nothing remarkable” occurred while she was present, the statement noted.
Dhaliwal did not return a request for comment on the decision, but a statement released through her lawyer said she was “vindicated.”
Her appointment to the Health Ministry was rescinded May 15, shortly after the special prosecutor’s appointment.
Dhaliwal was made an adviser to the labour minister that same day, before the premier’s office said on May 26 that she’d been placed on leave.
Darryl Greer, The Canadian Press