A former deputy minister appointed by the NDP government to the ICBC board of directors in late August was paid $38,526 to be a senior member of Premier John Horgan’s transition team in July.
Doug Allen held five portfolios during a 15-year career in the B.C. government. In 2015, the management consultant was the $30,000-a-month CEO of TransLink when voters rejected a sales tax increase to fund Metro Vancouver transit expansion.
Allen’s company, 1034 Tokyo Resources, could have billed the Office of the Premier up to $61,000 for his 17-day contract — the largest of 35 no-bid transition contracts that could have cost taxpayers a combined $812,800.
A spreadsheet released by the Office of the Premier showed a total $295,479.40 was paid to 30 contractors. Five contractors — Horgan’s deputy minister Don Wright, CUPE, Malahat Solutions Consulting, Samuel Stephenson and Lucy Watson — did not bill for their services.
“Transition costs are a normal expense by any incoming government, and our new government had a lot of work to do after 16 years of BC Liberal neglect,” said Horgan spokeswoman Jen Holmwood in a prepared statement. “Our highly qualified transition team helped us hit the ground running on key initiatives like removing tolls, cutting MSP, and working to get schools ready for our kids in September.”
No one collected the full amount to which they were contracted. Darwin Sauer, a Vancity vice-president on leave, came closest by billing $23,859.43 of his $25,000 contract through Sept. 1.
The Office of the Premier’s proactively published direct awards list for July showed 28 contractors were hired for up to three weeks after the Green-supported NDP toppled the 16-year BC Liberal dynasty in a June 29 confidence vote. Seven did not appear on the list for unspecified administrative issues, but they will be included in the next listing.
Other payments included $29,441.19 to former Manitoba NDP politician and lobbyist Eugene Koystra, $18,026.77 to Cavanagh Strategy Group and $14,938.20 to former deputy transportation minister Blair Redlin. Cavanagh’s principal, Judy Cavanagh, became Horgan’s executive director of operations.
Horgan’s chief of staff Geoff Meggs billed $13,827.98 on his $25,000 contract. The Meggs contract was dated July 4, the same day he Vancouver city council with more than a year left on his term to take the $195,000 job in Horgan’s office.
Another Vision Vancouver councillor, Kerry Jang, was paid $4,000. By email, Jang told theBreaker that he was hired to prepare a briefing note to the new Ministry of Health and Addictions “on steps to take on the opioid overdose crisis.” Jang is also a University of B.C. psychiatry professor.
Other contractors included Romar Communications, a company co-owned by campaign adviser and veteran ad agency executive Marie Della Mattia ($13,787.10), lobbyist David Perry ($7,600), Neil Monckton of Hospital Employees’ Union ($6,212.72) and Keith Reynolds of CUPE ($5,600).
In Question Period on Oct. 17, ex-Liberal jobs minister Shirley Bond called rewarding party friends with contracts “the NDP version of a jobs plan.”
Said Horgan: “She may well remember 16 years ago, when the government last changed, there was a transition process. There was a transition process, where people that are working with the government to make the change from one to the other come into place. This is standard procedure. Nothing to see here.”
When Christy Clark succeeded Gordon Campbell as BC Liberal premier in 2011, her transition team included ex-MLA Roger Harris, ex-Premier Bill Bennett’s son Brad Bennett, future party president Sharon White, future chief of staff Mike McDonald, assistant deputy health minister John Bethel, veteran BC Liberal strategist/lobbyist Patrick Kinsella and then-SNC-Lavalin chair Gwyn Morgan.
Clark fired 13 deputy ministers, political aides and bureaucrats, costing taxpayers $2.4 million in severance payments. Public Affairs Bureau head Ron Norman’s settlement was worth $324,000 alone.
In January 2013, Clark’s government gave SNC-Lavalin the contract to build the $1.43 billion Evergreen Line SkyTrain extention.
Morgan retired in May 2013 from SNC-Lavalin after CEO Pierre Duhaime’s arrest for fraud and the World Bank blacklisted the company for bidding on its development projects over allegations of corruption in Southeast Asia.