NDP aide transferred between cabinet ministers’ offices while Crown counsel investigates

Gurveen Dhaliwal, a municipal candidate with Community First New West in last year’s local election, was caught scrutineering at a voting station

After two weeks in Health Minister Adrian Dix’s office, Gurveen Dhaliwal has moved to the office of the minister of labour | Patrick Donovan/Moment/Getty Images

After only two weeks in Health Minister Adrian Dix’s office, the New Westminster School Board chair under investigation for breaking the municipal election law was transferred.

On May 1, a cabinet order appointed Gurveen Dhaliwal to be one of Dix’s ministerial advisers. The job pays between $66,900.01 and $94,600.06 annually.

However, on May 15, a new cabinet order announced she had moved to the office of Minister of Labour Harry Bains.

Dhaliwal did not respond with an explanation. Neither did Dix or Bains.

Dhaliwal is a former constituency assistant to Burnaby-Lougheed NDP MLA Katrina Chen and she worked on Richmond-Queensborough NDP MLA Aman Singhs 2020 campaign. A February 2021 cabinet order announced her hiring as executive assistant for Minister of State for Infrastructure Bowen Ma at $66,300 a year.

Dhaliwal, of the NDP-aligned Community First New West party, acted as scrutineer on behalf of city council candidate Ruby Campbell at the Queensborough Community Centre voting station last October, contrary to the Local Government Act section that states a candidate may only be at a voting station to cast a vote. The law sets a maximum $5,000 fine and up to one year in jail upon conviction.

Instead of Dhaliwal commenting last October, her party’s chair, Cheryl Greenhalgh, blamed Dhaliwal’s scrutineering on a “lapse of memory” and said that she regretted “the mistake.”

Dhaliwal won re-election on Oct. 15 and was 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 was spotted at the voting station by Jason Chan, campaign manager for the rival New West Progressives. Chan confirmed with New Westminster election officials that Dhaliwal was acting as a scrutineer. Chan was referred to the New Westminster Police Department (NWPD) and filed an official complaint on Oct. 9.

NWPD forwarded its report to Crown counsel, which declined to offer details about the investigation and whether a special prosecutor had been appointed.

“As this matter remains under charge assessment, the [B.C. Prosecution Service] will have no further comment at this time,” said Crown spokesperson Ann Seymour.

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.”

Peter Juk, the assistant deputy attorney general in charge of appointing special prosecutors, did not respond for comment.