On Conflict, Corruption, and the Diva of Deflection

Alternate title: At least four more reasons the BCLiberals ran from the legislature two weeks early….

The big question of the election campaign so far is not who is best to run the economy…It is how much conflict of interest , cronyism, and flat out illegal activity is going on from those who lobby government to the highest levels of the BCLiberal government? And how much will the electorate stand for?

My last two posts touched on an “affordable housing” deals in which Bob Rennie, presale market condo speculator somehow received a $39M loan which helped him do what he does best.. Minister Coleman, despite a promise to release documents this week proving that this actually helped acquire or build a larger number of affordable units at a separate location, has not done so.

RossK over at the Gazetteer has been poking into a story about a man named Steve Carr, the Premier’s special advisor… He retired from the civil service in 2015, then was rehired at a high salary in 2016…. In 2015 it appears, his consulting company was renamed from Steve Carr Consultants to the numbered company 1048216. That company may have received no bid contracts from the Premier’s office while Steve Carr maintained a position as one of the most powerful people in that office…Read the post here http://pacificgazette.blogspot.ca/2017/03/two-advisors-in-clarkland-with-exactly.html .

Issues arising from this if it all proves to be true involve how much information Steve Carr would be able to protect from scrutiny wearing the consultant hat as opposed to the employee of government hat.. (think Health Firings investigation, LNG deals etc.) . Further, as an advisor, legally if he performs the functions of a government hire , supervising staff, using government resources and  a government office on a full time basis, the law may see him as an employee of government in fact, rather than a retiree on contract or some sort of independent.

There are no issues proven in court around Steve Carr, nor any indication a court may be where it lands if there’s fire under the smoke. But the question of why the company name was changed to a numbered company (if the two Steve Carrs are in fact one person) surely rings alarm bells around consciously hiding questionable activity. Surely.

The “Lobbyist donation scandal” is now in the hands of the federal RCMP, rather than Elections BC, and the rats have started to come out of the woodwork. The NDP has taken action to return a couple of illegally made donations totalling about $4000 . The BCLiberals have identified $93000 (so far) and is spinning some of them as clerical errors. Integrity BC has pegged an estimate well over $1million in donations on record with Elections BC worth questioning. Ouch.. gotta hurt if all that has to be paid back , tax receipts received and re-issued.

BCLP candidate Kim Chan Logan came forward to request $18000 in donations made on behalf of Telus (who she worked for) be ‘corrected’. Sorry Kim. That’s not the way it works…. illegally made donations (third party) are illegal whether or not you can credibly claim ignorance of the law. The RCMP will presumably be talking to you and a host of others as well. Why? Because we know the practice was widespread and can’t have been entirely someone’s guilty little secret. Who received the tax receipts for Telus donations made in Kim Chan Logan’s name? Was it Kim or Telus?  Who claimed the tax credits if they were claimed?

Not just a matter of correcting some paperwork. The interesting question isn’t whether some charges will be laid under the Elections Act eventually…It’s whether Party operatives will be proven to have colluded in this “don’t ask, don’t tell” scam. I think Kim Chan Logan should resign her campaign, provide information about how this happened and concentrate on getting the best deal she can.

A brouhaha erupted on Twitter last night, with complaints forwarded to the Conflict Commissioner because Brad Bennett will be on Christy Clark’s campaign bus for the duration of the election. The problem? He is the chair of BCHydro (think SiteC) …. I used to have this innocent idea that BCLiberals wanted Crown Corps separated from politics.. that was the line about BCFerries after the Fastcats in 2001. I used to have this idea that Crown Corps operated in the public , not the partisan interest, and would soldier on whoever won electoral power..  Brad Bennett does carry the baggage of a perceived conflict here. To say the least.

All that brings us to the Diva of Deflection, Christy Clark, so named by the estimable Vicki Huntington..and the fiasco that was the last legislative sitting….

Fires aplenty to put out, but Christy managed to fan them with half measures…

To much interest, she called a news conference to announce commuter rail for Langford/Victoria. It turns out she announced that it would be studied after the election.

We were led to believe there were campaign finance reforms on the agenda one Monday at the Legislature..Donation reform!  Would the Premier finally listen and ban corp and union donations? Present a bill to limit individual donations? Sigh, that was a no. She would form a panel to study the issue after the election, if she wins. Thud.

Mike deJong was going to move on the much sought after “duty to document”. Advocated for by several Info and Privacy Commissioners as well as the opposition, this measure would ensure no triple deleting of how decisions are made in government and why. There would always be a record…..Did deJong live up to the hype?  No…he proposed that a new officer be appointed within government to make recommendations on the issue…..Another thud.

It must be hard being a press reporter and stifling your frustrations when the Premier’s press operatives raise expectations and disappoint so thoroughly.

I’ll ask again, and I know I’ve answered my own question… Why was the legislative session cut two weeks short? Why , Christy, didn’t you take the time to pass many of your own bills?  Because the way you’re behaving, you’re in trouble….and it leaves me wondering…Will the Ombudsman Jay Chalke’s review of the Health Firings scandal actually be produced and released before April 9th?? Maybe it will…



7 thoughts on “On Conflict, Corruption, and the Diva of Deflection”

  1. Our Kamloops MLA, Terry Lake, is the Minister of Health. He MUST know what the details of the Health Ministry firings are.
    Why doesn’t he just tell us? No Ombudsman’s Review would be required.

  2. “And how much will the electorate stand for?”

    I’d like to believe the electorate wouldn’t stand for very much. Unfortunately there hasn’t been very much of the activity described in your opening question revealed to the critical electoral mass to date. Hard to get riled about something you haven’t heard.

    You and other credible bloggers are doing your level best but as usual on these matters that involve BC Liberal chicanery, the promedia gang won’t go into the corners; or where it’s dark.

  3. There’s a cast of at least four who should be questioned at length about the Health Ministry debacle: Christy Clark (Premier), Mike De Jong (Minister of Health 2011-2012), Margaret MacDiarmid (Minister of Health 2012-2013), and of course Terry Lake (Minister of Health 2013-????).

    I am suspicious of the constant turnover of Ministers of Health since 2011. I believe it’s a tactical maneuver to delay, deflect, confuse, and ultimately scuttle the whole sordid affair.

    1. Two people with direct line responsibility in the health ministry firings were John Dyble, Christy’s Deputy Minister and head of the Public Service Agency, and Graham Whitmarsh, Deputy Minister of Health. Margaret MacDiarmid arrived just in time to announce the firings that been set up under Michael de Jong’s watch.

      Graham Whitmarsh (by then fired without cause) lawyered up quickly when the public started demanding answers and went public with a claim that the government was out to scapegoat him for the affair. He later refused to cooperate with the McNeil inquiry into the debacle saying the inquiry was not at sufficient arms length from government to reach the truth.

      I suggest the most productive witnesses under oath would be Graham Whitmarsh and John Dyble. Michael de Jong can stand by chewing his fingernails while they spill his beans.

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