‘The member from Kamloops is no longer talking about grilled cheese sandwiches’
Excerpt from Question Period in the B.C. Legislature on Thursday, May 31, 2018, on the embedding of NDP political staff in constituency offices:
P. Milobar: Let’s get this right. The Premier stood…
Mr. Speaker: Members. Members, we shall hear the question.
P. Milobar: …in this House accompanied by his chief of staff and said that constituency offices wouldn’t be politicized. He was asked this question after his chief of staff had already sent out an email to the staff saying the exact opposite in internal emails. The chief of staff said: “You are to work on politics, not casework.” This is a clear-cut partisan activity in non-partisan offices. Will the Premier direct the B.C. NDP to reimburse taxpayers for this misuse of public funds?
Hon. J. Horgan: I can assure the member that my executive assistant is buying his own lunch, if that’s a concern for him. I can also assure him that the objective is to take the politics out of my constituency office because of the increase in volume.
Members might remember…. I know the member who just asked the question is new to the place, but other members will know that when you have the responsibility of being a member of executive council, people phone you, and they send you emails. We’re separating that out so that my constituency staff are not dragged into politics and the running of government. It was straightforward then; it’s straightforward now.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Kamloops–North Thompson on a supplemental.
P. Milobar: Well, the fact of the matter is that we have partisan NDP hacks dispatched to non-partisan offices with instructions right from the chief of staff to work on politics and not casework. As of December 4, 2017, there were 19 executive assistants operating out of the constituency offices.
Now, I know the Premier doesn’t seem concerned about taxpayers’ funds, but the cost to taxpayers for these salaries is more than $1 million.
Mr. Speaker: Members. Members, again, we shall hear the question. Thank you.
P. Milobar: Again, the cost to the taxpayers for these salaries — these 19 executive assistants — is more than $1 million. Will the Premier direct the B.C. NDP to not only stop this practice but to reimburse taxpayers for the more than $1 million in public funds that have been misused for partisan activity?
Hon. J. Horgan: I appreciate that the opposition thinks this might be a quick win for them today, on the last day of the session. I know this is an elevation up the speaking order for the member from Kamloops. He’s no longer talking about grilled cheese sandwiches. He’s now talking about people working in constituency offices for the people of British Columbia.
I’m proud to say that we’re able to talk, in my constituency, about the great things we’ve done over the past number of years. For example, primary care facilities right across the province are changing the model for the delivery of health care, which atrophied on the other side when you were in government. Increased MRIs we can talk about because of the work of this side of the House.
We’ve been doing work for the past ten months making life better for British Columbians. I appreciate that just sounds like a grilled cheese sandwich to that member. No quick wins here. We’re focused on people. Maybe you should do that too.
Source: BC Hansard.