Premier Christy Clark is defending her use of a taxpayer-funded lawyer to represent her before the Conflict Commissioner.
Responding in Question Period, Clark says it’s a practice that’s taken place for a long time.
“I don’t know if the member is suggesting that if Glen Clark didn’t have, for example, the support of a government funded lawyer when he was before the Conflict Commissioner, or any number of other members that that member sat with when they were on the government side of the house, but that’s the way it has been done for a long time.”
The Conflict Commissioner is looking into fundraisers where BC Liberal donors pay as much as $20,000 to sit close to the Premier.
Opposition wants expanded probe
That conflict of interest complaint against the Premier is about to be updated to include the $30,000-$50,000 salary top up the BC Liberals give their leader.
NDP MLA Dave Eby says cash raised at pay-for-access events, which also help pay the top up, put the Premier in a conflict of interest over decisions she makes that could benefit donors.
He also says taxpayers aren’t just paying the Premier’s initial almost $200,000 salary before the party tops it up.
“Rather shameful truth that the public is paying for the Premier’s lawyer to defend her private fundraising practices and the private financial benefits she gets from the party. The fact that she takes between $30,000 and $50,000 a year out of the backdoor of the BC Liberal party in a personal allowance from the party. It is amazing.”
As for the Liberals claim the top up is publicly reported each year, Eby says Christy Clark’s 2015 MLA disclosure statement seems to be pretty vague and doesn’t contain an actual dollar figure.
“I challenge the party to produce a single publicly available document that shows the Premier took between 30 and 50 thousand dollars a year, so over a five-year-term, between 150-and-200,000 in private donations – show me one document that says that.”
In light of the top up Eby says he will amend his complaint with the conflict of interest commissioner this morning, and says he wants to know if laws were broken.
“The core of my complaint with the conflict of interest commissioner that the Premier has in fact broken the law. That she has placed herself in a conflict of interest. That she may have done so with decisions she has already made. That if nothing else that she has placed herself in a conflict of interest in relation to decisions she is about to make that relate to her donors who help pay for this top up she receives. She is in a real jam.”
Read the David Eby letter to Conflict of Interest Commissioner, Paul Fraser