Open Space: It’s time for some fresh blood in BC’s provincial office
March 20, 2017 by Mason Hendricks, web editor
With all the exciting events taking place across the world recently, we Canadians often forget that we have our own issues to deal with right here in the great white north. For example, our federal and provincial politicians must be held accountable for their actions, and British Columbia’s governing party is long overdue for some scrutiny.
BC premier Christy Clark’s tenure has been flooded with scandals and conflicts of interest. Clark and her government officials have been known in the past to adhere to a “triple delete policy,” in which important records and emails are completely erased, preventing journalists from getting information from Clark’s party. Ontario Liberal party executive Laura Miller was forced to resign after she was charged with three counts of destruction of information. Clark, however, still continues to defend Miller as a “person of integrity.” Miller was even given the position of the BC Liberal campaign chief for the 2017 provincial elections, despite facing criminal charges back in Ontario.
But it’s not just deleted emails and records that shine a suspicious light on Clark. Until earlier this year, she was receiving a $50,000 stipend directly from the Liberal party on top of her annual $195,000 salary. This stipend is paid for by party donations; it has been alleged that Kinder Morgan (the company behind the recently green-lit pipeline project running from Alberta to the shores of Vancouver) contributed $550,000 to the BC Liberal party, a transaction that has been described as “legalized bribery” by advocacy groups.
The BC Liberal party is actually being investigated right now by Elections BC over their possibly fraudulent fundraising practices. Ironically, BC’s conflict of interest commissioner Paul Fraser (whose son works for the Liberals) has ruled twice that the donation-funded stipend, which Clark had been receiving, does not constitute a conflict of interest, although, as critics have mentioned, the commissioner’s son also happens to work for Clark’s government, which would itself appear to represent another conflict of interest.
Rampant corruption and lack of ethics aside, environmentalists have also found themselves at odds with Clark’s government on issues ranging from soil contamination at Shawnigan Lake to the construction of BC Hydro’s proposed Site C dam in the Peace River region of northeastern BC.
Then there’s the provincial government’s support for grizzly bear trophy hunting, which on average kills between 300 to 400 grizzlies a year. Even the European Union has made an assessment of BC’s grizzly bear situation, deciding to temporarily suspend all grizzly bear imports from British Columbia in order to allow the bear populations on the west coast of Canada to replenish their numbers. The Liberal party has essentially followed in Harper’s footsteps in regards to environmental policies and their disregard for public opinion.
Watching elected civil servants behave as though they are above the law is upsetting. It’s time for some fresh blood in the provincial government, in the form of a premier who actually listens and responds to the grievances of their citizens. Perhaps the Green Party or the NDP can muster together a decent candidate with a chance of unseating Clark in BC’s May election. If that’s not the case and Clark remains in office, we’ll see a continuation of her party’s blatant disregard for ethics, apparent conflicts of interest, and environmental apathy.