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Christy Clark's chief of staff resigns over inappropriate behaviour at Victoria bar

Sep 25 2012
Ken Boessenkool was Christy Clark’s chief of staff for eight months. 

Ken Boessenkool was Christy Clark’s chief of staff for eight months.

Photograph by: . , .

Premier Christy Clark’s chief of staff has resigned for engaging in inappropriate behaviour in a Victoria bar earlier this month.

Ken Boessenkool submitted his resignation letter after meeting with Clark on Sunday.

“Earlier this month I was involved in an incident where I acted inappropriately,” he said in the letter. “I was wrong, regretted my behaviour very much and immediately and unconditionally apologized.”

Boessenkool, a married father of four daughters, said his resignation takes effect immediately.

“This will give me a chance to return to Calgary to be with my family — who I have also let down — and from whom I have been separated on a weekly basis for most of the last eight months,” he said.

Clark told a news conference Monday that her office was made aware of the incident about two weeks ago and launched a review under Public Service Agency guidelines.

“After that work was done, I made a decision and I accepted the resignation of my chief of staff,” she said. “When I sat down with Ken, I knew that he would have to resign, and he agreed that that was the right course to take.” 

Clark declined to provide details, except to say it came as a surprise and there was no suggestion of criminal conduct.

“I cannot answer any of the questions that you might have about what gave rise to this, about the incident itself; I just can’t do it,” she said. “Every employer in the province is bound by the same restrictions on sharing information about personal privacy when it comes to personnel matters.”

But sources told Times Colonist political columnist Les Leyne that the incident occurred at a downtown bar following a Sept. 7 golf tournament, and that it involved a female government staff member. 

Boessenkool, a former adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, was named Clark’s chief of staff in January. The move was seen at the time as an effort by Clark to fend off attacks from the right by the B.C. Conservatives.

His departure just eight months later could not come at a worse time for the Liberals, who will seek re-election in May, said Allan Warnke, a political scientist at Vancouver Island University. “That came more or less out of the blue, and that’s what you don’t want — not at this time when you go into the final phase of the election cycle,” he said. “You cannot have surprises coming right out of left field. You have to show stability, consistency.”

Clark, whose party trails the NDP in opinion polls, downplayed the damage of Boessenkool’s resignation. She appointed Dan Doyle as her new chief of staff. A career civil servant, he played a key role in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and served as chairman of B.C. Hydro. 

“He is the guy who can step in and make sure we don’t miss a beat,” she said.

Boessenkool’s departure follows the loss of key cabinet ministers Kevin Falcon, George Abbott, Mary McNeil and Blair Lekstrom after they announced they will not seek re-election.

lkines@timescolonist.com

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