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HomeNewsBennett won’t step aside from Hydro while stumping for the Liberals

Bennett won’t step aside from Hydro while stumping for the Liberals


Bob Mackin

In 2013, he was on Premier Christy Clark’s much-maligned #DebtFreeBC bus. A British Columbia political celebrity, the grandson of Social Credit legend W.A.C. Bennett and son of Bill Bennett.

Except for Dave Barrett’s brief NDP interlude from 1972 to 1975, a Bennett was the B.C. premier between 1952 and 1986.   

Bennett and Clark in 2013 (Twitter)

Kelowna’s Brad Bennett, the Clark-appointed BC Hydro chair since 2015, is going out on the campaign trail again, “from writ day to e-day.” 

But will he temporarily step aside from his role atop the province’s biggest Crown corporation, which is building the $9 billion Site C dam?

No, he told theBreaker.  

“Needless to say, the 28-day campaign is a very limited period of time, but it’s one I am prepared to give my attention,” Bennett said via email. “The BC Hydro board and its committees are not meeting during this period.

“As I’ve said before – I encourage all citizens to become involved in the democratic process in the way they are comfortable and able to participate.”

During the 2013 election campaign, Liberal candidates Peter Fassbender and Suzanne Anton remained on the B.C. Pavilion Corporation board, only resigning after they were elected. Fassbender even did an interview at his campaign office to oppose an NDP promise aimed at privatizing B.C. Place Stadium. Fassbender is the municipal affairs minister and Anton the attorney general, both running for re-election.

The code of conduct for provincial board appointees says: In general, a conflict of interest exists for directors who use their position at the organization to benefit themselves, friends or families. A director should not use his or her position with the organization to pursue or advance the director’s personal interests, the interests of a related person, the director’s business associate, corporation, union or partnership, or the interests of a person to whom the director owes an obligation.

BC Hydro has long provided positions of prominence to friends of the party in power. Premier Mike Harcourt appointed NDP-friendly lawyer John Laxton as chair in 1993. Laxton resigned in disgrace amid the 1996 “Hydrogate” scandal. Reporters David Baines and Jeff Lee discovered that Laxton was an investor in British Virgin Islands companies that held shares in a private subsidiary of BC Hydro that was developing a power project in Pakistan. Then NDP-premier Glen Clark turned to former Socred Attorney General Brian Smith to take over from Saxton in 1996. 

Today’s Premier Clark is under fire for exempting the Site C project from a B.C. Utilities Commission review, costly BC Hydro contracts with run-of-river power projects, and rising electricity rates for British Columbians.  

Clark represents a riding in Kelowna, but lives in a $3.7 million house in Dunbar registered to a business associate of part-time Kelowna resident, Greg Kerfoot. Clark has not disclosed where she stays in Kelowna, on the rare occasions that she does not fly home to Vancouver after daytime photo ops.