TRAVIS – Stipend affair not exactly a shining moment for B.C.’s Liberals

“WHEN DID our moral standards become so complicated?”

traviscolhedIt was a question left hanging in a recent email to me from Linda Kayfish, the sister of Roderick MacIssac.

MacIssac was one of eight health ministry workers fired in 2012. He later took his own life, as a result of that firing. To this day the government hasn’t come clean on what led to the firings or who made the call.

While the question was more rhetorical in nature over the government’s intransigence, it could just as easily pertain to any number of political issues in the province.

A fact that hit home after reading a recent column by the Georgia Straight’s Charlie Smith entitled: Has the time come for B.C. premiers to disclose their tax returns?

Let that sink in for a moment.

Anything coming out of the mouth of a politician has always been greeted with a dose of cynicism, but we may have turned the corner from skepticism street to distrust boulevard without ever noticing.

Smith was writing about the flap over Premier Christy Clark’s decision to forego her $50,000 stipend from the B.C. Liberal party.

The stipend affair has not been one of Clark’s shining moments.

It was sad that a premier who once boasted she was going to put families first didn’t appreciate the optics of accepting a semi-secret, five-figure top-up that was more than most British Columbians make in a year.

It was sad that when asked by The Tyee to put some numbers after the stipend’s dollar sign, the premier waved the question off, glibly calling it a “car allowance.”

This from a premier who had once promised to run the most and transparent government in Canada. Pity the other nine provinces.

It was sad that the premier still didn’t get it after the Globe and Mail’s Gary Mason put the numbers after the dollar sign for her.

The public wasn’t so amused when they learned of the amount.

It was sad that B.C.’s conflict of interest commissioner, John Paul Fraser, didn’t get it when a complaint was filed with his office over the stipend.

Fraser’s son is a deputy minister in the B.C. government, but not your average, run of the mill deputy minister.

Fraser Jr. is in charge of the government’s propaganda arm: the communications and public engagement office.

It was never about the legal merits of dad’s argument over whether there was a conflict in his investigating the premier, but the perception that could be left with some over his family circumstances.

It was sad that it seemingly took the New York Times for the premier to finally get it, saying she would refuse the $50,000 stipend, because it had become “a distraction.”

It’s sad that a good chunk of the public still doesn’t buy it.

No question, some were in Clark’s corner. One posted on social media, “Hey I think she should get more for putting up with your crap,” another “Think about this….she is responsible for the whole province….yes, we pay her $195,000 a year…so what…who you gonna get for less to do that job??”

Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC

About Mel Rothenburger (5538 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on TRAVIS – Stipend affair not exactly a shining moment for B.C.’s Liberals

  1. Rather than just pass on the next $50,000.00 why doesn’t she repay all previous payments received prior to the May 9th election!

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