Very few officials knew of RCMP investigation on Les
Only a select few officials other than the RCMP knew British Columbia's Solicitor General John Les was under investigation regarding allegations of improper conduct as a municipal official in Chilliwack, officials said on Saturday.
Les, the province's top cop, resigned from cabinet late Friday after it was revealed a special prosecutor was appointed in June 2007 to oversee an RCMP investigation.
"I don't know who's being investigated, where it is being investigated or when a special prosecutor has been appointed, and that's the way it should be," said Premier Gordon Campbell.
Attorney-General Wally Oppal, who will take on the role of solicitor general as the investigation continues, said he should not have known about the case, either.
"The police conduct their investigations independently of any political interference. So that's entirely proper that investigations go on without us knowing about it," he said.
Les told reporters on Friday evening he has no doubt that he will be cleared of all allegations.
"I know I have done nothing wrong," Les told reporters on Friday evening. "So in a way this is of course, troublesome, but on the other hand, knowing as I do that this will end up with myself being completely exonerated, I'm ok with this," he said.
Officials in the provincial Criminal Justice Branch knew Les was being investigated for alleged impropriety, but the issue raises questions about why the public was not notified the province's top law enforcement politician was being investigated.
"We can't have political interference in investigations," said Campbell. "You don't want to have an investigation launched and then have it immediately undermined by untimely disclosures of what's taking place."
Opposition House leader Mike Farnworth says the mysterious cloud over Les is a damaging hit to the government.
"That's a significant blow to a government that's already been beset by questions around ethics in the premiers' office, questions around the B.C. rail scandal and now this," he said. "It's not good for the government."
Les says even he did not know any details of the investigation until media alerted him to the news.
"I'm not sure what the allegations are," Les told reporters on Friday evening. "I learned this afternoon that I'm apparently part of an investigation into issues at Chilliwack city hall, apparently dating back to the time when I was mayor. But I have no details, I have never been questioned by the RCMP."
Les was Mayor of Chilliwack from 1987 to 1999.
The independent special prosecutor, Robin McFee, was appointed to aid police in their investigations because it involves a B.C. cabinet minister, and he will recommend if charges should be laid.
Les was elected to the legislature in 2001 and was appointed Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General on June 16, 2005, and previously served as Minister of Small Business and Economic Development.
NDP Leader Carole James called it "very disturbing news.''
She said he did not have a choice other than to step down, but more importantly, asked why the public was not notified.
With files from The Canadian Press and a report from CTV British Columbia's Jim Beatty