Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell is stepping aside as the commissioner of an independent review of Manitoba Hydro projects, in the wake of a British newspaper report alleging he is the subject of a sexual assault investigation being conducted by London police.
The Daily Telegraph reported late Friday that a former London embassy staffer, who worked alongside Campbell during his time as the Canadian High Commissioner to Britain, accused him of groping her in 2013.
Police from Scotland Yard told the Telegraph that an investigation of a sexual assault allegation from 2013 is ongoing and no arrests have been made.
Bill Walker, a spokesperson for Campbell, said the complaint outlined in the Telegraph article was previously investigated.
"This complaint was transparently disclosed and became the subject of a full due diligence investigation at the time by the Government of Canada and was found to be without merit," Walker said.
Campbell served as B.C. premier from 2001 to 2011. He was then appointed the U.K. high commissioner by Stephen Harper, a diplomatic post he held from 2011 to 2016.
In October 2018, the Manitoba government asked Campbell to lead an economic review of Bipole III and the Keeyask Generating Station, two Hydro megaprojects that went millions over-budget.
According to an Oct. 10 cabinet order, Campbell was granted special permission as the review's commissioner to call witnesses and hold hearings. The review has a $2.5-million budget and Campbell was required to complete its final report by Dec. 31, 2019.
The Free Press asked to speak with the premier about Campbell's role in the review and was sent a prepared statement by a spokesperson instead.
The spokesperson, speaking on behalf of Crowns Minister Colleen Mayer, said the Hydro review would continue without Campbell at the helm and they expected results on the same timeline.
"It was a mutual decision to pause Mr. Campbell’s role and for him to step aside until the responsible authorities have completed their review of these allegations," he said.
If required, the government can designate staff currently assigned to the review as the acting or new Commissioner with the legislative powers set out under the Evidence Act, however that is not required at this stage of the review and the review is ongoing.
It's unclear how many other staff are working on the Hydro review and whether they will have the same legislative powers that Campbell did as commissioner.
NDP leader Wab Kinew renewed his call to scrap the inquiry altogether.
"This so-called solution is nothing more than an attempt by the Pallister government to delay action," Kinew said in a prepared statement.
Campbell is the sole commissioner of the inquiry into Manitoba Hydro. He was granted significant legal power by Pallister's cabinet, including the ability to subpoena witnesses, produce documents and spend up to $2.5 million in tax payers' money. The Premier should put a stop to his political exercise and immediately cancel this inquiry.
Liberal leader Dougald Lamont agreed "there is no need whatsoever for this review," noting Boston Consulting and the Public Utilities Board have already produced similar studies.