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BC Election 2017
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98 BC Liberal Falsehoods, Boondoggles and Scandals: The Clark Era 53

Part two of 15 years of public messes, sourced and explained. If we forgot any, please remind us.

David Beers, Tom Barrett and Tyee Staff and Contributors 4 Apr

David Beers is founding editor of The Tyee and Tom Barrett is a long time contributor to The Tyee and before that covered B.C. politics for the Vancouver Sun. Grateful thanks to other Tyee team members who assisted in compiling this list and checking its accuracy.

This report is part of The Tyee’s reader-funded B.C. 2017 election coverage. To learn more about becoming a Tyee Builder, go here.


Pipelines? Tax cuts? A free-range organic chicken in every pot? Elections are a great time to argue about policy options. Something all voters can agree on, however, is they’d prefer their government tell the truth, spend money responsibly, and avoid embarrassing breaches of ethics or the law. In B.C., one party has been in power for 15 years, more than enough time to reveal its proclivities. As an aid to voters, therefore, The Tyee researched the BC Liberal government’s record regarding falsehoods, boondoggles and scandals. We tallied 98 items and now invite readers to suggest more.

Some definitions are in order: By falsehood we mean promises broken or assertions that proved demonstrably untrue. By boondoggle we mean significant public money lost to waste, overruns, or ill-conceived initiatives. And by scandal we mean moments when government was revealed to have seriously broken rules or caused harm either deliberately or through neglect or incompetence. So please comb our list, and if you think we’ve missed one or two BC Liberal falsehoods, boondoggles or scandals over the years, drop us a note at [email protected] with the subject line: “Add this to the list.”

Yesterday we began with the years when Gordon Campbell was BC Liberal premier, from 2001 to 2010. Today we finish with the era of his successor Christy Clark, 2011 to now. Along the way we’ve tossed in a few sidebar items that don’t quite match any of our three categories, but did cause our eyes to roll. Do send items we may have missed. We promise to add any that fit our definitions. Next Monday we’ll then publish the entire list, spanning 2001 to today. So read closely and rack your memory. With your help, we might end up topping 100.

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B.C.’s high-flying premier ran up more than half a million dollars in private jet flights during her first five years in office, at times managing to squeeze in Liberal party fundraisers among the government photo ops. On at least two occasions, Clark flew on jets chartered from companies owned by wealthy Liberal backers.

BOONDOGGLE: Stanley Cup Riot Report Topped $300K, No One to Blame

After the 2011 Stanley Cup riot, the government hired former Olympics boss John Furlong and Former Nova Scotia deputy attorney-general Doug Keefe to co-chair an inquiry. Their report was criticized for letting Canucks brass, senior bureaucrats, police and politicians off the hook. The inquiry did manage to go over its budget, though, running up a bill well over $300,000. Documents showed that Furlong billed for four hours of work the same day he spoke to the International Olympic Committee in South Africa.

FALSEHOOD: Forest Job Figures Didn’t Count Real Jobs

The government boasted the booming economy they’d created had resulted in 27 mill re-openings and 10,000 new forestry jobs since 2009. Turns out those numbers were based on the “number of board feet [exported to] China divided by 250 million feet per mill” — numbers that the Opposition NDP said didn’t match figures from Statistics Canada. The NDP’s numbers came up with less than half that number of new jobs. And the government’s own stats don’t bear out the boast.

SCANDAL: Four Die, No Charges Laid Due to Botched WorkSafeBC Probe

Robert Luggi, a worker at a Burns Lake sawmill texted his wife from work. “Please pray for me,” he wrote. “I'm going to check something out.” Twenty-seven minutes later Luggi and co-worker Carl Charlie were dead, as the mill exploded into a fireball that injured 20 others. Three months later, in April 2012, two more men died when a sawmill near Prince George blew up. Both explosions were caused by a lethal buildup of dry sawdust. As The Tyee reported, the blasts took place “in a context of work speedup and imperfect regulatory inspections, long, exhausting shifts and work sites covered with fine, flammable dust that should have been cleared away.”

The B.C. government would eventually bring in new rules to improve sawmill safety but declined to mount a public inquiry. No charges were laid against the mills’ owners because the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch decided that WorkSafeBC’s actions and inactions had made successful prosecutions unlikely. Not only had WorkSafeBC failed to warn the mills of the dust buildup, but its investigations into the tragedies were so flawed that the evidence gathered would not be admissible in court, the prosecutors concluded.

FALSEHOOD: BC Libs Understated Deficit by $520 Million: AG

The B.C. government used non-standard accounting to make the deficit seem $520 million smaller than it really was, accused B.C.’s auditor general in 2012. It was too familiar, he said, citing “a long-standing trend of shortcomings in the transparency of government’s finances” throughout the BC Liberal era.

SCANDAL: Over Sharing Minister Fired

Harry Bloy was the only MLA to support Christy Clark in her campaign for BC Liberal leader. When she won, the career backbencher found himself in cabinet, as minister of social development. As his ministry shut down programs for disabled adults, Bloy gave the impression of a man with only the faintest idea of what his job entailed. After being demoted to minister of state for multiculturalism, Bloy was forced to resign when he passed on a private email from a Province reporter to officials of a company the reporter was investigating.

FALSEHOOD: Reversal on Pesticide Ban

In May 2011, Premier Christy Clark said she was going to ban the cosmetic use of pesticides, telling reporters: “I’ve supported this for years now. We are going to do it.” A year later, after a legislative committee split along party lines on whether to support a ban, Clark wasn’t going to do it. Unlike most provinces, B.C. still has not banned cosmetic pesticides.

FALSEHOOD: Clark Reneged on Public Consult on Treaty

In June 2011 Premier Clark promised the public would get the chance to comment on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union, then under negotiation. “There will be, I’m told, consultation on this agreement,” she said. “There will be many avenues for the public’s input.” A year later, no consultation. “No, we don’t intend to do that,” Clark told the legislature.

SCANDAL: No Proof Chinese Temp Worker Shakedown Was Investigated

After The Tyee reported Chinese temporary workers were being illegally charged thousands by recruiters for B.C. mining operations, and the CBC independently confirmed the practice, the BC Liberal government pledged to investigate, but claimed to find no evidence. Pressed, the government produced no evidence any real investigation had been done, and union reps cried foul.

FALSEHOOD: Premier ‘Fudging’ Job Creation

At the end of 2012, there was “no other way to say it: The B.C. government is fudging its job creation record,” wrote National Post senior reporter David Akin. “While Clark campaigns to be number one on job creation, B.C. is actually the worst in the West and fourth worst in Canada” and the “B.C. government is making false claims about the performance of the BC Jobs Plan.”

FALSEHOOD: Minister Wrongly Claimed RCMP Investigating Fired Health Workers

When Minister Margaret MacDiarmid announced the firing of seven health ministry workers in 2012, she claimed the RCMP were investigating their alleged misbehaviour. Later, after one worker committed suicide, others sued, none were charged, some got cash settlements and their jobs back, and the premier apologized, it came to light that the RCMP, for lack of evidence, had never launched any investigation.

SCANDAL: Researcher, Wrongly Fired, Committed Suicide

Ph.D student Roderick MacIsaac killed himself three months after he was fired with six other government health researchers as part of a 2012 investigation into alleged ethics breaches. MacIsaac had been assessing the risks of anti-smoking drugs the province was paying for after Christy Clark promised it would when running for leader. The drugs included Champix, previously the subject of U.S. and Canada safety warnings. Premier Clark eventually apologized for the “heavy handed” firings of MacIsaac and others. Some were offered their jobs back and awarded cash settlements after the government admitted it overreacted.

The NDP and MacIsaac’s sister called for a public inquiry, but the Clark government said no, choosing the less transparent route of putting the Ombudsperson in charge of fact-finding and even changing the law to make it possible, despite serious concerns raised by the fired, the opposition and the Ombudsperson himself.

BOONDOGGLE: Big Price Tag for Health Ministry Firing Mess

The BC Liberals’ false persecution of seven drug researchers in 2012 left taxpayers on the hook for cash settlements with the fired workers, legal costs, and multiple reviews of the snafu. One such probe was contracted to Deloitte & Touche LLP without allowing other firms to compete because “an unforeseeable emergency exists,” the 2012 paperwork showed. The firm billed $684,309.67 in less than five months and in May 2013 stood to receive another non-compete contract for $650,000 to keep at it. Meanwhile, taxpayers incurred the untold expense of paying for drugs that might otherwise have been recommended against. For example, the government kept paying for Alzheimer’s drugs in a pilot study longer than planned while the research work on its effectiveness halted after the firings. Graham Whitmarsh, who was deputy minister during the firings, was himself fired after the next election and given a $250,000 golden parachute.

FALSEHOOD: Broken Promise to Revise Municipal Election Rules

In July 2010 the BC Liberal government promised to change the legislation covering municipal election spending in time for the 2011 elections. Nine months later, however, the government admitted the changes wouldn’t happen until 2014 “due to tight timelines for spring legislation and the complexity of the planned changes.” Then, in February 2013, the minister in charge admitted the changes weren’t coming anytime soon. The changes finally went through in 2014, in time for the 2018 elections — seven years late.

SCANDAL: Chief of Staff Did Something So ‘Inappropriate’ in a Pub He Resigned

Premier Clark’s chief of staff Ken Boessenkool suddenly resigned after he acted, he said, “inappropriately.” Whatever he did involved a female government staffer in a bar, according to news reports. The premier refused to give details, citing privacy. Her deputy chief of staff may have destroyed related records, the Information Commissioner later found.

FALSEHOOD: Clark Canards Riddled Radio Interview

In the thick of 2013’s election, Premier Clark took to the airwaves to make a series of false claims about her government’s record on debt, deficits, and the province’s credit rating.

SCANDAL: Cynical ‘Quick Wins’ Strategy Broke Rules

The BC Liberals plotted to woo voters while using public funds to collect data for the election, which is forbidden. The strategy memo, written by Premier Clark’s close friend and deputy chief of staff Kim Haakstad and shared by private email to avoid public scrutiny, cynically suggested the party gain “quick wins” by offering apologies for “historical wrongs” to various ethnic groups. After the memo leaked, the multiculturalism minister stepped down, his aide resigned, and so did Haakstad and communications director Brian Bonney, who was charged with breach of trust. Clark called it all “a serious mistake” but rebuffed calls for an independent investigation.

SCANDAL: Few Private River Generators Met Environmental Standards

In summer of 2012 only four of 22 BC Liberal government sanctioned, privately owned run-of-river electricity projects on South Coast rivers were being operated in a satisfactory environmental manner, according to documents pried from the province’s Environmental Assessment Office. A year and half later only six of 24 projects were compliant, according to a Province news story headlined “‘Horror Shows’ on B.C. Rivers.”

SCANDAL: Clark Failed to Disclose Ties to Firm She Later Touted as Premier

As premier, Christy Clark promoted RCI Capital Inc. on overseas trade trips without publicly disclosing her past ties to the company. The CEO of RCI said he hired Clark, after her first stint in government, to be director of his new subsidiary aiming to recruit foreign students to B.C. But the enterprise stalled, he said and Clark did no work and wasn’t paid the two years she was listed director. Clark shrugged off conflict of interest accusations leveled by the opposition, watchdog IntegrityBC and others.

SCANDAL: As Mount Polley Disaster Hit, AG Was Readying Scathing Report on BC Mine Oversight

To avoid more catastrophes like the 2014 failure of the tailings pond dam at Mount Polley mine, responsibility for regulating mining in B.C. should be taken away from the ministry that also promotes the industry, concluded a report from the province’s auditor general. The Ministry of Energy and Mines’ “role to promote mining development is diametrically opposed to compliance and enforcement," said the report, which found “major gaps in resources, planning and tools” and “too few resources, infrequent inspections, and lack of enforcement” threatened the safety of mines across B.C. Work on the audit was already underway when the Mount Polley disaster happened. BC Liberals deeply cut mine safety inspections when they took government in 2001.

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The aftermath of a tailings pond failure at Mount Polley mine, 2014. Photo: Cariboo Regional District.

SCANDAL: Higher Ed Minister’s Past Rule Breaking Exposed

A government probe slammed BC Liberal Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk for transparency failures when he was on the board of Kwantlen Polytech. After months of pressure, Premier Clark demoted Virk to a less important ministry while keeping him in cabinet.

SCANDAL: BC’s Gambling Guardian Caught in Conflict of Interest

The man in charge of keeping B.C. gambling clean did not disclose a conflict of “private economic” interest before suddenly quitting to lead a private casino venture. Michael Graydon was forced to apologize after investigators revealed that, while CEO of the BC Lottery crown corporation, he was in discussions with a consortium that months later hired him with hopes of moving into a $535-million complex on provincial land. Once gone from government, Graydon kept getting BC Lottery emails, including a strategic memo.

FALSEHOOD: 100,000 LNG Jobs Claim Doesn’t Add up

The BC Liberal government has repeatedly said LNG projects would create 100,000 jobs in B.C., citing a 2014 consultants’ report it paid for, but the math is sketchy. KPMG assumed at least five plants built by 2023 but the government itself only predicts three, with none yet underway. Based on five plants, by 2022 KPMG projected 58,700 “direct and indirect” construction jobs, 23,800 operations jobs and thousands of “induced” jobs created by households with more income. Most of those jobs wouldn’t be permanent. And taken together, even in the peak construction year of 2018, all jobs fall 30 per cent short of 100,000. So how many long-term jobs could five LNG plants create? Once “in full production by 2027, the steady state direct workforce demand for operations is expected to be 8,000 to 9,000 jobs,” said KPMG.

BOONDOGGLE: New Auditor Couldn’t Run Own Shop

Premier Clark created a bureaucracy to make sure cities spent their money responsibly. But the Auditor General for Local Government blew through $5.2 million in two years while getting little done, a leaked government report found. The 10-person office was itself badly run by Basia Ruta, most of her staff alleged to investigators. The BC Liberal government, which had paid a private headhunter $57,000 to hire Ruta, fired her.

FALSEHOOD: Minister Painted Opposite Picture of Total Fail

Two years after Premier Clark created the Auditor General for Local Government, The Tyee asked the minister in charge if there were management and human resource problems at that office. None, Minister Coralee Oakes assured. But she was directly contradicted by a damning report finished the month before by Oakes’ own director of strategic human resources. Later, the auditor general was canned.

BOONDOGGLE: Taxpayers Lost $43 Million on Fast Land Sale

An independent appraiser told the BC Liberal government if it hung onto 14 parcels of Coquitlam land for some months to let the market work they would fetch $128 million. But all the land was sold quickly instead to one buyer, a big Liberal donor, for $43 million less. The sale went down just in time to pad a BC Liberal budget shy of balancing.

SCANDAL: Emails Regularly ‘Triple Deleted’ to Avoid Scrutiny

A widely used method of scrubbing sensitive emails from B.C. government archives was unmasked by a whistleblower in the transport ministry. Former staffer Tim Duncan said co-worker George Gretes grabbed his keyboard away from him and “triple deleted” emails about the Highway of Tears in northern B.C. where women, many Indigenous, have gone missing. Gretes lied about triple deleting to the privacy commissioner and pled guilty. The commissioner found three more staffers breached the freedom of info law. Under fire, Premier Clark banned triple deleting, which Duncan said was commonplace, ascribing this mindset to BC Liberal appointee culture: “Do whatever it takes to win… at any cost.”

BOONDOGGLE: BC’s Go It Alone $182-Million Computer Glitch

The Integrated Case Management computer system chosen by the BC Liberal government in 2008 to manage sensitive social service files crashed and kept piling up costs, including over $500,000 a year for a repair team roving the province. B.C. was alone in choosing the software rejected by other jurisdictions as wrong for the job, and met early with a bad security breach and slowdowns, internal documents showed. By 2015, the still glitchy ICM had “not fulfilled its key objectives” found the auditor general. Cost to taxpayers: at least $182 million.

BOONDOGGLE: Om No! Clark’s Yoga Fest Collapse

Premier Clark announced a $150,000 International Day of Yoga festivity that would block Vancouver’s Burrard Bridge and compete with the first National Aboriginal Day, but cancelled it a week later after a public backlash and sponsors, BC Liberal donors AltaGas and Lululemon, pulled out.

BOONDOGGLE: Five Years Late, Health Ministry Computer 420% over Budget

“Impacted by defects from the start,” concluded B.C.’s auditor general when assessing a botched computer system supposed to manage infectious disease outbreaks. Five years behind schedule, the problem-plagued Panorama project’s costs had risen 420 per cent to $113 million, sucking up $14 million yearly in maintenance, said the AG.

SCANDAL: Teen’s Death after Foster Care Hell Exposed System Failures

After aging out of a brutal life in foster care since early childhood, Paige Gauchier, 19, was found dead of a drug overdose in a park bathroom in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The RCMP investigated whether public employees failed in their responsibilities and recommended charges that were not pursued. The title of the independent Children and Youth Representative’s report, “Paige’s Story: Abuse, Indifference and a Young Life Discarded,” summed up its findings. In issuing its response, the BC Liberal government waited five months, timed for federal Election Day, where it was sure to get reduced coverage.

SCANDAL: Teen Who Killed Himself in Ministry Care ‘Should Not Have Been Left Alone’

Four months after B.C.’s independent youth advocate responded to Paige Gauchier’s death by issuing a shocking report of systemic failure to protect foster children, 18-year-old Alex Gervais committed suicide by leaping from a hotel room where he’d been on his own for months while in provincial care. The youth advocate launched another investigation, saying “He should not have been left alone,” and “the government, particularly the Ministry for Children and Family has a lot to answer for in this case.” It found that during his short life, Gervais was placed in 17 different living locations, some just hotels, with 23 different caregivers.

FALSEHOOD: Clark’s ‘Open’ Government an ‘Utter Sham’

After a damning official report about the Clark government’s culture of secrecy, Globe and Mail columnist Gary Mason threw up his hands: “Once upon a time, Ms. Clark campaigned on the promise to have the most open, transparent government in the country We now know that was a complete and utter sham, said for the benefit of a gullible public to get votes. The government’s record on this front is a disgrace.” More on that record here.

SCANDAL: BC Lib Executive Director Criminally Charged

Premier Clark’s BC Liberal Party rehired its executive director, Laura Miller, even though she faces a criminal trial in September in Ontario. Miller resigned in December after being charged with breach of trust and mischief for an alleged role in the destruction of email records in Ontario’s gas plant scandal when she was deputy chief to the premier there. In rehiring Miller, Premier Clark stressed she must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. If convicted, Miller could face 10 years in prison.

FALSEHOOD: No LNG Funds Funding LNG Prosperity Fund

“B.C. LNG Prosperity Fund to Get $100M Contribution, but Not from LNG” read a 2016 CBC headline. Premier Clark had promised a liquefied natural gas windfall, including a “prosperity fund” Clark’s finance minister said would be “tied directly to the establishment of an LNG industry.” But the fund’s first $100 million came from taxpayers instead, an amount the BC Liberal government had raised by upping MSP premiums. “I found it unbelievable that the premier would start a prosperity fund,” said NDP MLA Carole James, “with revenue that hasn’t come in, from an industry that hasn’t started yet in British Columbia.” The following September the BC Liberals added $400 million more to the fund, still without any LNG money.

FALSEHOOD: Not Gonna Do Foreign Buyers Tax, Said Premier

The BC Liberal government denied for over two years it could do anything to slow skyrocketing housing prices, even after the price of single detached homes in Greater Vancouver leapt 40 per cent in just 12 months ending in February 2016. A number of experts and 29,000 petition signers urged an obvious place to start was a foreign buyers tax. Nothing doing, said both Premier Clark and her chief fundraiser, condo king Bob Rennie.

Until July 2016, that is, when Clark’s government, under extreme pressure to act, did impose a 15 per cent foreign homebuyers’ tax, applied only to Metro Vancouver. Rennie said he “knew” one was coming weeks before, prompting the NDP to demand he be investigated for insider info. But Rennie clarified he’d just had a hunch. Six months later he quit as BC Liberal fundraiser.

FALSEHOOD: Site C Facts Don’t Support Minister’s ‘Due Diligence’ Claim

Frustrated at opposition to the $9-billion Site C dam project, Energy Minister Bill Bennett said the BC Liberal government “took seven years to do our due diligence to determine this was the best way to acquire new electricity at the lowest price, clean electricity.” In fact, the BC Utilities Commission exists to provide due diligence on such a project, but the government prevented its own agency from reviewing Site C and holding public hearings. The only time the BCUC vetted the Site C project was back in 1983, and it rejected it. A 2014 joint federal and provincial environmental assessment panel could find no urgent need for the project. B.C. power needs projections are flat. The costly dam can only result in “a massive increase in electricity rates” says a former BC Hydro CEO.

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Site C under construction, March 2017. Photo by Zoë Ducklow.

FALSEHOOD: The Benefits Increase that Wasn’t

After nine years of no disability benefit increases, the BC Liberal government last year announced a rise of $77 per month. But the same budget clawed back transit pass fees for people with disabilities, making the real gain for 35,000 of B.C.’s most vulnerable just 2.3 per cent over nearly a decade.

BOONDOGGLE: $1 Million to Film Photo-ops

British Columbians pay $500 a day, every day, for pros to snap and video BC Liberal government photo-ops, a bill now scraping $1 million.

FALSEHOOD: Debt Doubled as Ads Boasted of ‘Controlling’ Spending

A TV ad blitz last year showed Premier Clark boasting, “Controlling government spending is really the foundation, is the bedrock of what we’re trying to do.” But since the BC Liberals took power the total provincial debt has almost doubled and a critical Canadian Taxpayers Federation notes that debt rises $3.4 million every day.

SCANDAL: Breach of 3.4 Million Private Student, Teacher Records

The Clark government was chastised by the province’s privacy commissioner for losing a hard drive with three decades of personal info for 3.4 million B.C. and Yukon students and B.C. teachers. The education ministry failed to provide security to prevent unauthorized access, use or disclosure, found the commissioner, because employees were inadequately trained and poorly led.

SCANDAL: ‘Shadow-flipping’ Brokers Exploited Zero Oversight

In 2005 the BC Liberals removed government oversight from B.C.’s real estate agents, letting the industry self-regulate. Result: Brokers got rich and drove up prices by “shadow-flipping” — reselling a property multiple times before a deal closes and profiting from each transfer using a sales contract clause.

When the public caught wind, Premier Clark’s response, to close the shadow flipping loophole and re-regulate realtors, failed to impress Martyn Brown, former chief of staff to premier Campbell.

Clark has refused to act “when confronted with the irrefutable evidence that B.C.’s housing and real estate industry was a scandal-ridden haven for shady realtors, money launderers, and dishonest brokers,” Brown wrote. “It was only when the political heat got too intense that she did her infamous ‘180’ by reregulating the industry that her government had for so long allowed to run amok.”

FALSEHOOD: Government Pulled Misleading LNG Ad

A public funded ad claiming $20 billion has already been invested in the LNG industry in the province was yanked early after a blogger shot holes in it and citizens complained to authorities. One was “appalled” the ad called LNG, a fossil fuel, “clean.” Meanwhile, blogger Merv Adey questioned the huge figure given that nothing LNG related of any significance has been built in B.C. He found about half the figure, instead of new economic benefits, was energy firms buying and selling rights from each other and most of the rest was current gas production that would be happening without LNG terminals. The BC Liberal government denied it pulled the ad because of a complaint.

SCANDAL: Toxic Site Left to Pollute Despite Local Alarms

After locals long beseeched B.C.’s environment ministry to revoke the permit it granted a quarry to store up to 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil each year, a court finally halted more deliveries, ruling the government’s approval process was unfair. Pollution problems at the site were identified years ago. The Cowichan Valley Regional District and the Shawnigan Residents Association spent over $2 million on the legal battle to stop contamination of drinking water sources. Not until after the district and residents won in court, amidst calls for her resignation, did the environment minister pull the site’s permit.

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Tarps, tires and water collection at the Shawnigan Lake contaminated waste dump. Photo by Laura Colpitts.

SCANDAL: Citing Premier’s Extra Pay from Donors, NYT Named BC ‘Wild West’ of Fundraising

Under attack last year for attending exclusive, high-priced BC Liberal fundraisers and accepting a $50,000 stipend from her party on top of the money she’s paid by the public, Premier Clark rebuffed critics who saw a “pay to play” threat to democracy, and rejected the NDP’s call to ban corporate and union donations. Then the New York Times named B.C. “the wild west” of unregulated fundraising, noting that “much of what is considered business as usual in British Columbia is illegal in the rest of Canada.” Clark’s personal top-up from rich donors was ruled okay, noted the Times, by “the province’s conflict-of-interest commissioner whose son works for Ms. Clark.”

Deputy premier Rich Coleman, whose party raised $12 million last year, called the NYT article “laughable” and “weak.” Clark later dropped receiving the personal top-up from donors.

SCANDAL: Real Estate Sector Biggest BC Liberal Donors While Affordability Disappears

The real estate sector contributed $12 million of $70 million in corporate donations received by the BC Liberal Party between 2005 and 2015, more than from any other sector. While housing affordability disappeared for buyers and renters — especially but not only in Metro Vancouver — Clark’s financial backers made windfall profits as rich foreign buyers speculated in residential property with no restrictions. “No corporation, no industry, no union gives the level of money that they give to politicians without expecting special consideration in return, and they do get it,” confirmed Martyn Brown, former top aide to premier Gordon Campbell. Last year and this, eight of the 10 top donors to the BC Liberal Party are involved in the province’s property development and construction industries.

FALSEHOOD: Clark Wrongly Accused NDP of Hacking Crime

With no proof, Premier Clark accused New Dems of criminally hacking the BC Liberals’ website, later apologizing by leaving a voice message on NDP leader John Horgan’s phone.

FALSEHOOD: ‘Over Promising’ Premier Kept Insisting BC ‘on Target’ for LNG Plants

Christy Clark won the 2013 election promising massive foreign investment in a trillion-dollar liquefied natural gas industry that would wipe out B.C.’s debt and create a $100-billion savings fund. Experts warned a global glut and long development timelines made that highly dubious, but nearly two years later Clark was still insisting there would three plants done by 2020. Today, building hasn’t started for one near Squamish, which Clark said would be operating now; as of last month only one job had been posted on its website. Investment in a second Prince Rupert plant cited by Clark has yet to be approved by Malaysian backers. A third project that Clark based her assurances on was dropped by Shell last month. Clark’s “over promise,” concluded the CBC, means “The premier is poised to enter the 2017 campaign with no LNG revenues and the potential of no shovels in the ground on any major LNG facility.”

BOONDOGGLE: Port Mann Sinkhole

Upon opening the $2.5-billion tolled bridge over Fraser in 2012, Liberals said it would start turning a profit this spring. Instead it’s lost $407 million already with no profitability in sight.

BOONDOGGLE: $1.5 Billion Plummet at ICBC

A few years after Liberals projected a $678 million surplus, the insurer is $833 million in the red, revealing a massive structural deficit caused by government interference and mismanagement according to an expert.

BOONDOGGLE: Public Millions Spent on Partisan Ads

Lawyers launched a B.C. taxpayers’ suit against the government last month for wasting public dollars on pre-election ads favouring the BC Liberals. Last election the Clark government bragged to voters using $15 million of their own money. This time it plans to spend even more. “Not only have the Liberals managed to amass a huge war chest because of the lack of restrictions on party financing,” observed one political scientist, “they have the audacity to supplement it with public funds.”

SCANDAL: RCMP Launches Investigation into Lobbyists’ Donations

After the Globe and Mail reported B.C. lobbyists were breaking one of B.C.’s few political donation rules by pouring money into party coffers under their own names and being reimbursed by clients, Elections BC asked the RCMP to investigate. One watchdog estimated the improper indirect donations could top $1.5 million. Premier Clark reacted by promising an independent commission to fix things, if she and her party are re-elected.

SCANDAL: ‘World Class Conflict of Interest’

That’s what the Globe and Mail named B.C., seeing so many BC Liberal donors rake in public money. It’s “a situation where companies seeking government contracts, approvals or tax breaks can give unlimited sums of money to the governing party. Lobbyists in the province have told The Globe and Mail they feel they need to donate, or their entreaties on behalf of their clients will be ignored.” In fact, B.C.’s transportation ministry gives three-quarters of its sole-sourced contract dollars to BC Liberal donors.

Most of the world’s countries ban foreign contributions but not B.C., noted the Vancouver Sun’s Doug Todd: “The BC Liberals have in recent years received hundreds of thousands of dollars from offshore real estate developers, mining companies, railways and others. At least indirectly, the B.C. Liberals have even received donations from foreign governments, specifically China.”

Click here to read 45 previous BC Liberal falsehoods, boondoggles and scandals on Premier Gordon Campbell’s watch. If you know of one or two we have forgotten, please email [email protected] with the subject line “Add this to the list” and we will consider adding it to our final tally next Monday.  [Tyee]

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