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Glen P. Robbins files Conflict of Interest Complaint against BC Premier Christy Clark
  Apr 12, 2017

Commentary
Glen P. Robbins Burnaby, BC
Mr. Paul Fraser QC BC Conflict Commissioner Facsimile: 1 250 356 6580 conflictofinterest@coibc.ca
Attention: Mr. Paul Fraser QC
Re: Complaint against Premier Christy Clark pursuant to sections: 2,3,4,5,7,9,10,11,12,13,16,17,21,21.1, & 26 of the Members Conflict of Interest Act [RSBC 1996] Chapter 287
I am advancing complaint against Christy Clark, Premier of the British Columbia on the basis of the following provisions of the Members Conflict of Interest Act (RSBC 1996) Chapter 287, and specifically sections: 2,3,4,5,7,9,10,11,12,13,16,17,21,21.1, & 26 of that Legislation.
Members Conflict of Interest Act
What is "Conflict of Interest"?
The Members’ Conflict of Interest Act stipulates that a Member of the Legislative Assembly must not be involved in a decision during the course of public duties with the knowledge that there is an opportunity to further the Member’s private interests.
What is the Purpose of the Act?
“The Members' Conflict of Interest Act, which came into effect December 21, 1990, provides a statutory framework for: (1) defining standards of official conduct for Members of the Legislative Assembly; (2) providing mechanisms for the early identification and resolution of potential conflicts of interest; (3) investigating alleged conflicts of interest; (4) publicly disclosing the financial interest of Members of the Legislative Assembly.”The cornerstone of the Members' Conflict of Interest Act is the appointment of a Commissioner who is an independent Officer of the Legislative Assembly.
What is the (Conflict) Commissioner's Role?
“The Commissioner performs three separate but related roles:
First, the Commissioner acts as an advisor to Members of the Legislative Assembly. Members need to know what their obligations are and that the steps they have taken or propose to take will fulfill those obligations.
Second, the Commissioner meets with each Member at least annually to review the disclosure of the Member's interests and general obligations imposed by the Act.
The third role of the Commissioner is to undertake investigations and inquiries into alleged contraventions of the Members' Conflict of Interest Act or section 25 of the Constitution Act.
The Commissioner may provide written Opinions on application by any individual Member, or by Executive Council, or by the Legislative Assembly, or by a member of the public and may at the request of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, or of the Legislative Assembly undertake such special assignments as the Commissioner considers appropriate.”
2 (1) “Conflict of Interest: “For the purposes of this Act, a member has a conflict of interest when the member exercises an official power or performs an official duty or function in the execution of his or her office and at the same time knows that in the performance of the duty or function or in the exercise of the power there is the opportunity to further his or her private interest.
“(2) For the purposes of this Act, a member has an apparent conflict of interest if there is a reasonable perception, which a reasonably well informed person could properly have, that the member's ability to exercise an official power or perform an official duty or function must have been affected by his or her private interest.”
3. “A member must not exercise an official power or perform an official duty or function if the member has a conflict of interest or an apparent conflict of interest.”
5 “A member must not use his or her office to seek to influence a decision, to be made by another person, to further the member's private interest.”
13 “Despite anything in this Act, if any person, whether or not the person is or was a member, has realized financial gain in any transaction to which a violation of this Act relates, any other person affected by the financial gain, including the government or a government agency, may apply to the Supreme Court for an order of restitution against the person who has realized the financial gain.”
17 “Public Disclosure Statement” “(1) After meeting with the member, and with the member's spouse if the spouse is available, the commissioner must prepare a public disclosure statement containing all relevant information provided by the member, and by the member's spouse if the spouse met with the commissioner, in respect of the member, the spouse and minor children, except (a) the municipal address or legal description of land that is primarily for the residential or recreational use of the member or the member's spouse or minor children, and (b) personal property used for transportation or for household, educational, recreational, social or aesthetic purposes.”
Section 7 “Accepting extra benefits” “7(1) A member must not accept a fee, gift or personal benefit, except compensation authorized by law, that is connected directly or indirectly with the performance of his or her duties of office.”; “7(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a gift or personal benefit that is received as an incident of the protocol or social obligation that normally accompany the responsibilities of office.”; (3) If a gift or persona benefit referred to in subsection (2) exceeds $250 in value, or if the total value received directly or indirectly from one source in any 12 month period exceeds $250, the member must immediately file with the commission a disclosure statement, in the form prescribed by the regulation, indicating (a) the nature of the gift or benefit, (b) its source, and (c) the circumstances under which it was given and accepted.”
Section 9 “Carrying on business” “A member of the Executive Council must not (a) engage in employment or in the practice of a profession; (b) carrying on business; (c) hold an office or directorship other than in a social club, religious organization or political party.” “If any of these activities are likely to conflict with the member's public duties; (2) A person who becomes a member of the Executive Council must comply with section (1) within 60 days of being appointed”
The Supreme Court of Canada on Conflict of Interest:
“The Supreme Court of Canada has reinforced conflict of interest decisions in various rulings. In one judgment [Fraser v Public Service Staff Relations Board, (1985) 2 S.C.R. 455, (“Fraser”) at para(s) 39, 38, 17, “that emphasized the need for ethical behaviour, the Court clarified the concept of apparent conflict of interest”.
Fraser provided the Court with the opportunity to reinforce its perception of ethics and conflict of interest in the public service: “The importance and necessity of an effective public service”... “upholding the dismissal of a public servant for breaching the duty of loyalty.” The Court went on to state that the fundamental task of the public service is to administer and implement policy.” “In order to do this well, the public service must employ people with certain important characteristics- knowledge is one, fairness is another, integrity is a third.”
“It describes the tradition of Canada's public service as emphasizing the charitable characteristics (sic) of “impartiality, neutrality, fairness, and integrity.”
“Appearance, or perception, is a key characteristic of impartiality, neutrality and integrity.” “In Fraser the Court asserted that “A job in the public service has two dimensions, one relating to the employee's tasks and how he or she performs them, the other relating to the perception of a job held by the public servant (sic).”
“In a passage of major significance for understanding apparent conflict of interest, the Court concluded its analysis of previous judgments in the following terms....[P]reserving the appearance of integrity, and the fact that the government is fairly dispensing justice are, in this context as important as the fact the government possesses actual integrity and dispenses actual justice [Emphasis added]” (Fraser para 17).
This is from the Tyee Online Newspaper dated December 12, 2012 in an interview between Andrew MacLeod and Christy Clark. Tyee: “I have a detailed question for you. Gordon Campbell while he was premier claimed in his conflict declaration statement a stipend from the BC Liberal Party, and you do as well. I'm wondering how much it is and what the rationale for it is?” Clark: “I don't know. Doesn't it say in the thing?” Tyee: “No, I think you probably tell the Conflict of Commissioner the amount...” Clark: “It's a car allowance” Tyee: “Why? I'm wondering what the rationale is” Clark: “I do a lot of driving. I do a lot of driving for party events and those kinds of things.”
We now know from numerous public reports in the Gazette that Premier Clark was receiving benefits which you depicted in another complaint as an “allowance”.
I do not believe that depicting this as an allowance is a reasonable in context. There is no provision for this type of allowance under the Members Act. I note that the word “allowance” as defined in the Income Tax Act relates to nominal amounts and does not appear to include political parties within its authority.
This is not the core of the complaint I advance here, although it may have implications for other complaint or actions going forward from here.
My complaint involves the fact that Christy did not properly declare the vehicle provided by her political party, outside the benefits provided by statute and the appearance of conflict of interest that she has with her political party, her Executive Council (Cabinet), her Caucus and to the Legislature.
I remind you that the Executive Council is appointed by the Lieutenant Governor which office is connected to the Constitution of Canada.
Christy Clark is no ordinary public servant, she is the Premier of the Province, and head of Cabinet. In this capacity she is first among equals, her salary (modestly) higher than that of each member of Cabinet.
The other Cabinet members are not known to be receiving or declaring any other income (as income is considered under these provisions (under trust etc.)).
Christy Clark admits to doing a lot of driving for party events. What happens when Rich Coleman or other Cabinet Minister attends party events? How do they come and go? If they drive to these party events do they take their own vehicle and seek compensation for gas or other?
Certainly the Cabinet Ministers do not all receive a car allowance of $50,000 per year.
Benefit is Income:
As a private citizen I have leased many vehicles through various companies. In these companies I owned it was necessary to declare the vehicle benefit as income above and beyond a certain amount, let's say, $10,000 per year, as well as vehicle insurance costs and gasoline where applicable.
Christy Clark is not able to do this under the statute which applies to all Members including the Premier. The $50,000 amount made public can only be construed legally as an income benefit.
This $50,000 benefit should have been declared in filings with you as income, and she ought to have declared the benefit as “other income” on her personal income taxes.
The Premier has power and authority to make decisions in conjunction with Cabinet and Caucus about various taxes British Columbians's must pay by law. As the head tax collector in the province by virtue of this authority one would expect the Premier would see it as essential that she too abide by the rules and the law as it related to paying taxes.
We live in a Parliamentary democracy. The Executive Council (Cabinet) of which the premier is head should be able to make decisions on behalf of all British Columbians' without ANY under influence or the appearance of undue influence that the person who leads them is loyal and devoted ONLY to them.
This is the essence of responsible government. Every kilometer Christy Clark puts on her vehicle is a reminder to her consciously or unconsciously that she moves about “a lot” in a vehicle paid for by other than her, and by an entity outside of the scope of the legislation ascribed to all Members.
The $50,000 annual benefit accrues to Christy Clark by virtue of her membership in the BC Liberal Party and not as a consequence (as it must) from the provisions in the Act which apply to all Member of the Legislature. This does a dishonor to not only her Cabinet, but to her Caucus who look to her for leadership. Moreover, it creates the appearance of conflict of interest over the whole Legislature, because it suggests to other Members they do not have to adhere to the law and the provisions therein.
The objective of the Complaint:
The main purpose of the complaint is to have Christy Clark return the total value of the benefit she received from her party along with interest at the Registrars rate, and to provoke an inquiry into the matter of proper disclosure of any potential conflict(s) of interest of all members.
For instance is Christy Clark the only one who is collecting this additional benefit outside the law, including those federal laws applying to persons leaving office?
I say this about the federal provisions because it provides the larger context from which to perceive this apparent conflict by Premier Clark. To wit: there is no circumstance in federal or provincial law which would permit this benefit collected by Ms. Clark. Her actions on this front are certainly contrary to those standards provided by the Supreme Court of Canada as suggested by Fraser.
Obviously, the original complaint was doomed to fail as there is no direct connection between BC Liberal donors and Christy Clark. The conflict of interest occurs in her capacity as Premier of the Province which is an official position affecting all British Columbians', while her capacity as leader of the BC Liberal Party relates to her capacity as seeking elected office in order to become (or remain) the Premier of the Province.
These two roles are not mutually inclusive in their objectives, nor does the BC Elections Act (governing political parties in B.C.) have authority over the statute governing basic pay and salary to persons elected to public office in the province.
I trust a review of this complaint will be conducted in utmost good faith.

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