Critics say BC premier needs to do more than ditch her Liberal party stipend

Critics say premier will still be in conflict

VICTORIA — Premier Christy Clark will still be in a conflict of interest even though she’s rejected her party’s annual stipend, suggests a group that’s been critical of political fundraising in British Columbia.

Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch says Clark will still get the party’s money because she’s requested her stipend be replaced with a system where she will be reimbursed by the Liberal party for her expenses.

But Conacher says the money will still be coming from donors who have paid to attend Liberal events and rub shoulders with the premier.

“It does nothing to stop the unethical, undemocratic influence of big money in B.C. politics,” Conacher said Saturday from Ottawa.

He said it could end up that Clark still gets $50,000 — the equivalent of her stipend.

Clark announced her decision to discontinue the payment when she attended an unrelated announcement on Friday. She denied the move was related to a recent New York Times article that was critical of party fundraising in B.C. and also rejected the suggestion the timing was connected to the upcoming provincial election in May.

Rather, Clark said the stipend had become a “distraction” and that she would ask other party leaders in the province to accept a system where they would be reimbursed for party fundraising expenses.

Liberals confirmed last spring that Clark is paid up to $50,000 per year for party work on top of her $195,000 salary.

NDP Opposition Leader John Horgan said Clark may only see the stipend as a distraction, but the public sees it as a conflict.

“After six years of taking money for fundraising, to say just before the election that we’re not going to do it anymore, I think it speaks to an issue that’s going to be dogging the issue up to election day,” Horgan said. 

Democracy Watch, as well as an opposition member of the legislature, filed conflict-of-interest complaints over the stipend and fundraisers, where tickets are sold for thousands of dollars.

Conacher, who is the group’s co-founder, said other provinces have adopted systems to remove big money from politics, which include donor limits and public funding.

Other parties in B.C., he said, have called for bans on corporate and union donations, as well as individual donation limits.

“It’s only the Liberals that are blocking real, meaningful change and instead are doing these small baby steps trying to appease voters,” Conacher said.

Clark said Friday that neither public nor private funding systems for parties are perfect, but that favouring private donations was preferable.

“I believe most taxpayers would say if they want to give to a political party, they don’t want to be forced to do it. They want to choose to do it, and they want to be able to choose which party to whom they would donate,” Clark said.

The B.C. Liberal Party also announced it will begin posting its political donations in real time.

Hamish Telford, an associate professor of political science at University of the Fraser Valley, said the issue of campaign financing hasn’t caught on in B.C. quite the same way it has recently for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, or in other provinces.

Telford said Clark’s decision to nip the issue in the bud and remove the stipend, which is directly connected to her, might put her in the clear in May’s election.   

“The one thing that could have upset people as we head into the election is the premier making a 25 per cent bonus over and above her regular salary. That could sort of gnaw at people and she’s eliminated that,” Telford said.

—by Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton



The Canadian Press

Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Anyone with information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a tip online at
21-year-old motorbike rider dies after crash with ATV on back road in Nanaimo

Incident happened Sunday afternoon near Boomerang Lake

News Bulletin file photo
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Bike lanes inexpensive compared with roads

It is a myth that car drivers are subsidizing cyclists or pedestrians, says letter writer

March 8 is International Women’s Day. (Stock photo)
Editorial: International Women’s Day can inspire us to recommit to equality

Let’s call out sexism, amplify feminism and keep working toward equality

Police in Nanaimo are turning to the public for help identifying two men suspected of a break-and-enter attempt at a Nicol Street apartment building. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP looking for two men suspected of a break-and-enter attempt

Security camera snapped images in Nicol Street apartment building parking lot

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 case reported at Nanaimo’s Mountain View school

School district advises of March 2-3 exposure dates

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Island Health opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

A sports car crashed into a lamp standard and rolled down the hill behind Country Club Centre mall on Sunday night. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Sports car crashes into lamp post, rolls down hill behind Nanaimo mall

Driver uninjured in incident Sunday night on Norwell Drive

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

Hannah Ankenmann, who works with k’awat’si Economic Development Corporation, winces as she received her first shot of the Pfizer vaccine administered by a Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Family Health nurse. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
Vancouver Island’s small remote towns to get community-wide vaccine clinics

Island Health to take a wholesale approach to immunization, rather than age-based appointments

Most Read