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HomeOpinionSpending and spin, fundraising and fibs: what BC Liberals did since last summer

Spending and spin, fundraising and fibs: what BC Liberals did since last summer


Bob Mackin

More than 200 days have passed since the Legislature in B.C. sat for four days last July. What happened,  you say? 

theBreaker has compiled a list of milestones.  

SEPT. 19: Premier Christy Clark and Deputy Premier and Housing Minister Rich Coleman announced a $500 million plan for what he called affordable social housing, that he said was a Canadian provincial record. It took more than three months for the government to admit that it had no facts to back-up the claim that it was a record. 

SEPT. 22: Coleman boasted in front of party faithful that the campaign was “fully funded.” But the party continued its fundraising spree unabated. It even hosted more four-figure cash for access events. A reporter was kicked-out of the Wall Centre Hotel during Finance Minister Mike de Jong’s October cocktail party with donors. Clark hosted a $1,000-per-person cocktail party at the Century Plaza Hotel, across from the decaying St. Paul’s Hospital. They papered-over the windows to save Clark and her donors from embarrassment.

SEPT. 30: Haida Nation president Peter Lantin told Clark to stay home when the Royal Couple, Will and Kate, came to Haida Gwaii. The Royals went for a canoe ride with Haida members wearing attention-getting T-shirts emblazoned “No LNG.” 

NOV. 3: International Trade Minister Teresa Wat spent more than two months in China and didn’t tell her Richmond Centre constituents. It took a leak to a reporter from a Liberal source about Wat’s apparently broken hip to get the government talking. Wat did not respond to questions about how and where she suffered the injury. 

NOV. 4-6: The party held its annual convention at the Bayshore Hotel, sponsored by a drug company and others. Keynote speaker was Jim Messina, Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign strategist (you win some) and Brexit Remain campaign strategist (you lose some). When he predicted a Hillary Clinton win, the room erupted in cheers. We know what happened on Nov. 8.

NOV. 4: The same day the convention began, Clark and Coleman and others held a photo op on the Woodfibre LNG site, claiming that the Indonesian billionaire who owns it was planning to build the export plant. Was it all just a PR stunt? The Liberals announced a new program called eDrive to subsidize electricity rates for LNG plants that use BC Hydro electricity. The government is refusing to show the business case and cost-benefit analysis for eDrive. 

NOV. 21: It was revealed that the person whose name is on the deed for Clark’s hush-hush house in Dunbar is a close business associate of Vancouver Whitecaps’ owner and Clark friend Greg Kerfoot. Clark’s name is on the deed of a $1.7 million house in Mount Pleasant. She does not own property in Kelowna and has not revealed where she stays on the rare occasions she visits her riding.DEC. 10

DEC. 7: The BC Liberals admit they’re going to double the advertising budget to $15 million, to flood B.C. airwaves and Internet with party-friendly “Our Opportunity Is Here” ads before the election period officially begins April 11. Did you know? Before the 2009 election, then-Premier Gordon Campbell issued a ban on all non-essential government advertising for the four months leading up to election day.

DEC. 10: The first of two features by Dan Levin of the New York Times that embarrassed the BC Liberals. Levin wrote that the Site C dam controversy was a “struggle between a public demanding greater rights and a government trying to push through large projects while avoiding scrutiny, at least in the eyes of critics.” Just over a month later, on Jan. 13, Levin delved into the murky world of B.C.’s political campaign financing. Levin wrote that “much of what is considered business as usual in British Columbia is illegal elsewhere in Canada” 

DEC. 15: Clark and Coleman announced a subsidized second mortgage scheme for first time home buyers. It was immediately panned by economists and likened to the subprime mortgages that led to the 2008 global recession. Like its other big ticket promises, the government is refusing to show the business case and cost-benefit analysis for the program. 

DEC. 22: Remember that “Our Opportunity Is Here” ad that claimed $20 billion had been invested in B.C.’s LNG industry? The Advertising Standards Council forced the BC Liberals to withdraw the ad after a complaint that it simply was not true. 

JAN. 20: Clark proclaimed that she would no longer take her $50,000-a-year bonus from the BC Liberal Party. Instead, she claimed, she would be reimbursed for expenses.

She once called the arrangement a car allowance, but Democracy Watch says it’s a glorified commission for attending party fundraisers and divides her loyalties between the public and party funders. The party is not covered by the Freedom of Information law. Is it time for B.C.’s premier to show the public her tax returns? 

JAN. 17: Liberal speaker and career politician Linda Reid dinged taxpayers $10,000 for a tropical getaway that she and two others took to Guyana, for a goodwill visit to meet with that country’s parliamentarians. 

JAN. 31: Democracy Watch filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court, to ask a judge to cancel the BC Liberal government’s Jan. 11-announced approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline twinning. Democracy Watch says that Clark, Environment Minister Mary Polak and Deputy Premier Rich Coleman were in conflict of interest because of Kinder Morgan’s $550,000 donations to the Liberals.

FEB. 6: The damning report about the preventable suicide of 18-year-old Alex Gervais at an Abbotsford motel. Since Clark took power in 2011, there have been 20 reports from the child protection watchdog all pointing at her government for failing its duty to care for B.C.’s most-vulnerable children and youths. 

FEB. 11: While Liberal cronies run the “Say Anything John” third-party attack campaign against NDP leader John Horgan, Clark demonstrated yet again that she is “Say Anything Christy.”

Clark was forced to apologize to Horgan after falsely claiming the NDP hacked the Liberal website — a scandal that took attention away from the report on Gervais. Independent MLA Vicki Huntington blew the whistle on Clark, calling her the “Diva of Deflection.” 

Clark left a voice mail apology for Horgan and told reporters about it on a speakerphone news conference. 

The photo op-loving career politician, nicknamed Premier Amor De Camera, evidently didn’t want the public to see her make a rare apology for one of her frequent falsehoods.