Thursday, November 08, 2012

Coming Apart at the Seams: BC Liberals are Unravelling

It's a bonanza right now for those who hope to see the BC Liberals wiped off the electoral map in a few short months from now. It's like shooting fish in a barrel because the signs and symptoms of a decade of their bloated, moribund and unethical governance are starting to pour out all over the place.

MLA calls for investigation of Clark over sale of BC Rail

VANCOUVER and VICTORIA — The Globe and Mail, Nov. 07 2012. 

The longest-running political scandal in British Columbia history has lurched back to life with allegations by an independent MLA that Premier Christy Clark violated conflict-of-interest regulations concerning cabinet meetings about BC Rail in 2003.

John van Dongen, a former Liberal MLA who has been investigating the government’s handling of the BC Rail sale, released a letter Wednesday that asks the conflict of interest commissioner to look into Ms. Clark’s activities nine years ago.

Ms. Clark said she had nothing to hide and would co-operate if conflict commissioner Paul Fraser has any questions for her.

“I know he’s referred it to the commissioner,” she said of Mr. van Dongen’s complaint. “I will absolutely co-operate with anything the commissioner asks. I’ve always conducted myself with an abundance of caution, absolutely honourably. And if this resolves any questions that he may have in his mind, I think that’s a good thing.”

In his letter, Mr. van Dongen points out that Ms. Clark told the House she would not take part in any debate on a bill concerning the sale of BC Rail, because she was in a conflict of interest. At that time she also told the House: “I have previously absented myself from cabinet discussions on this matter.”

She did not say what the nature of her conflict was, although it has widely been reported it was because of her brother’s connection to a U.S. company that was bidding for a BC Rail port facility which, in the end, wasn’t sold.

Mr. van Dongen said cabinet records show that she only once left a cabinet meeting declaring a conflict, although there were numerous meetings at which BC Rail must have been discussed.

“She clearly and distinctly stated she recused herself very early in the process [when she did not],” Mr. van Dongen said. “What I am asking for today is an investigation … which enables the conflict of interest commissioner to take statements under oath and acquire documents.”


Minister shared e-mails about Skeena Mill allegations with insider
PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. — The Globe and Mail, Nov. 07 2012.

A British Columbia cabinet minister shared internal government correspondence regarding fraud allegations against a Chinese businessman with an employee of that businessman who is also a B.C. Liberal Party insider.

Pat Bell, the minister of jobs, tourism and skills training for the B.C. Liberal government, forwarded an internal government e-mail to Bill Belsey last year, according to documents obtained by The Globe and Mail.


B.C. Jobs Minister must be investigated after e-mail shared, NDP critic says  


VICTORIA and VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail, Nov. 07 2012.

Premier Christy Clark must investigate her jobs minister for passing on an internal government e-mail to a B.C. Liberal insider, the NDP opposition says.

Bruce Ralston, the NDP finance critic, said it appears Pat Bell was helping out a political insider and friend when he passed along correspondence regarding fraud allegations against a Chinese businessman who Liberal Party official Bill Belsley was representing.

Ministry officials said Mr. Bell was not available for comment on Wednesday. In a statement, the minister said he sent the internal government communication to Mr. Belsey because he was seeking “additional perspective” on a media report in China accusing the businessman of fraudulent activity.

The e-mail chain from November, 2011, contained discussions among provincial bureaucrats that included the fact that there would soon be a “cross-Ministerial meeting” to discuss a “settlement framework” with Ni Ritao and his company Sun Wave Forest Products, the former owner of the Skeena Cellulose Pulp Mill on Watson Island near Prince Rupert.

Mr. Belsey, a former MLA and the current vice-president of the B.C. Liberal Party, works for Sun Wave.

The statement said that it was “well known in the community” that the province was helping Prince Rupert settle a dispute with Mr. Ni and Sun Wave. The statement did not address whether it was widely known that provincial officials would be meeting to discuss the possible structure of a settlement with Mr. Ni.

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