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HomeMiscellanyTrio of Tuesday Tidbits: Conflicted commish stays, a pay raise and Galiano tax relief

Trio of Tuesday Tidbits: Conflicted commish stays, a pay raise and Galiano tax relief

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Bob Mackin

Paul Fraser is British Columbia’s Conflict of Interest Commissioner who never found anyone had broken the rules, and the NDP government is keeping him around a little longer. 

A March 20 cabinet order, signed by Attorney General David Eby, named Fraser the acting conflict of interest commissioner as of April 5. Fraser was originally appointed as conflict of interest commissioner by the BC Liberals in 2007 and reappointed unanimously by NDP and Liberal members in 2012.

There is no replacement yet for Fraser. The Legislature’s Special Committee to Appoint a Members’ Conflict of Interest Commissioner last met behind closed doors on Feb. 28.

NDP cabinet order extending Paul Fraser’s tenure. (BC Gov)

A statement to theBreaker from Eby’s office said that Fraser “is the incumbent and therefore a logical choice for an acting appointment.” The appointment is valid for a maximum of 20 sitting days of the House. That would mean a new commissioner would be named by May 17 or the NDP cabinet would renew Fraser’s role as the acting commissioner for another 20 sitting days. And so on. 

“The committee has not released a position advertisement and deliberations continue at this time,” Kate Ryan-Lloyd, Deputy Clerk of the Legislature, told theBreaker.

 

Fraser’s Liberal-loyal son John Paul was Christy Clark’s $235,000-a-year deputy minister of government communications. The elder Fraser, whose job paid $276,000-a-year, donated $300 to the BC Liberals in 2006, on the same day as a $2,000 donation to the BC Liberals from Fraser Milner Casgrain, the law firm where he was a partner. 

Democracy Watch contested Paul Fraser’s 2016 decision to clear Clark of conflict of interest for her annual $50,000 party stipend raised from party donors. Democracy Watch alleged that Fraser was in conflict of interest, because of his son’s job. A B.C. Supreme Court judge said it was a matter for the Legislature, not the courts. 

The elder Fraser had cited his son’s job when he recused himself in 2012 from former BC Liberal MLA John van Dongen’s complaint about Clark’s links to the BC Rail privatization. 

Horgan rewards Holmwood, again

Jen Holmwood was among the NDP campaign workers rewarded with a communications job in Premier John Horgan’s office. The day of Horgan’s swearing-in was the same day Holmwood’s $110,000-a-year deputy communications director job was announced in a cabinet order. 

Horgan’s chief of staff Geoff Meggs (Twitter)

She got a raise on March 1, when another cabinet order set her salary level at “starting at $120,000 a year.” There was no change in her title. 

Horgan’s chief of staff, Geoff Meggs, told theBreaker that she is now responsible for the correspondence unit within the Premier’s Office.

“This is a substantial workload for Jen Holmwood, and we are happy that she has agreed to take on this new responsibility,” Meggs said by email. “Jen continues with her previous media relations duties as well.”

During the last year of Christy Clark’s premiership, the manager of the correspondence branch, Antoinetta DeWit, was paid $92,049. 

Spared from the speculation tax

Sighs of relief from both sides of the B.C. political spectrum when the NDP scrapped plans on March 26 to charge cabin owners on the Gulf Islands with the 0.5% speculation tax.

NDP president and North Vancouver city councillor Craig Keating owns a house on 5.226 acres of land, assessed at $363,000, on Galiano Island. On the same gulf island, Christy Clark and brother Bruce Clark have two properties worth a total $833,000 on 3.8 acres.

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