B.C. citizens’ services minister Jinny Sims resigns from cabinet amid RCMP investigation

The premier's office issued a statement late Friday afternoon that MLA Jinny Sims resigned from the NDP cabinet. Keith Baldrey has the latest on this breaking news story.

B.C. Minister for Citizens’ Services Jinny Sims has resigned from the NDP cabinet amid an RCMP investigation related to her, the premier’s office announced Friday.

Premier John Horgan said he learned from Attorney General David Eby that a special prosecutor has been appointed to oversee the investigation, prompting Sims’ resignation.

“I accepted her resignation as appropriate under the circumstances,” Horgan said in a statement. “We take any such investigation very seriously.”

Horgan said Minister of Housing Selina Robinson will temporarily take over Sims’ role as Minister of Citizens’ Services.

FOI minister accused of circumventing FOI laws
FOI minister accused of circumventing FOI laws

Sims remains the MLA for Surrey-Panorama, where she has served since 2017. She previously served as a NDP member of Parliament for Newton-North Delta from 2011 to 2015.

It’s not yet clear what the allegations are against Sims. In a statement released Friday, the MLA said even she has not been given the details behind the investigation.

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“This afternoon I offered my resignation as Minister of Citizens’ Services upon learning of the appointment of a special prosecutor,” Sims said.

“I am confident that my name will be cleared but do not want to distract from the important work of government in the meantime. For that reason, I have decided to step away from my duties while the matter is resolved.”

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The BC Prosecution Service said noted Vancouver lawyer Robert Peck has been appointed as the special prosecutor to assist the RCMP investigation into Sims “and others.”

In her statement, Sims noted there “was no credibility to previous public allegations,” referring to accusations levelled by a former employee in May.

Sims was accused of writing support letters for travel visas to be issued to 10 Pakistani individuals, three of whom were allegedly on U.S. security watch lists.

The former employee, Kate Gillie, also charged that Sims spoke openly about being promised campaign donations for writing the letters.

Gillie — who was fired on Feb. 22 after working for Sims in her constituency office for six weeks — also alleged Sims told staff to bypass Freedom of Information laws by communicating through WhatsApp and personal email addresses, rather than official email addresses.

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Those same Freedom of Information laws are overseen by the Ministry of Citizens’ Services.

Sims denied all the allegations.

In May, the information and privacy commissioner said he would not investigate an allegation that Sims used her personal email and other “non-government applications” to conduct government business because the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act does not “explicitly prohibit” the use of “personal applications” by public officials.

The office of Cloverdale-Langley MP John Aldag, which received the travel visa letters, later confirmed none of the subjects were identified as being on any watchlist.

Last year, Sims apologized after being caught using personal emails to conduct government business.

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson said he doesn’t yet know what the latest allegations are, but alluded they could be related to at least some of Gillie’s accusations.

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“We’ve been raising questions about Jinny Sims’ integrity for almost a year, and John Horgan did nothing about it,” he said. “Now it finally takes the police stepping in to get John Horgan to act and drop Minister Sims from cabinet because she does not deserve to be there.”

Wilkinson said the BC Liberals notified the RCMP about the information uncovered by Gillie and other staff who were “appalled” by Sims’ behaviour.

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“Perhaps that’s the cause of this RCMP investigation, but there may be other issues,” he said, referring to allegations of “totally inappropriate behaviour in [Sims’] constituency office in Surrey.”

Global News has reached out to the Ministry of Attorney General and RCMP for more information about the current investigation.

—With files from Richard Zussman and the Canadian Press