Integritybc

Christy Clark's India Trade Mission Weighed Down By Puzzling Delegates

Dermod Travis | Posted 10.14.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

B.C. Premier Clark is being accompanied to India by the advanced education minister and 72 travelling companions from different economic sectors including education, LNG and the film industry. But there's also representation from the fashion industry, decorative stones, a port authority, a modelling agency, heavy equipment, a used car dealer, a travel firm and even a Tim Horton's franchisee. A handful of the companies don't have a website or a listed phone number anywhere in Canada.

Ministerial Accountability In B.C. Slip Slidin' Away

Dermod Travis | Posted 10.01.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

Batten down the hatches, because this fall it's not just the threat of extreme weather British Columbians need to worry about; MLAs are returning to Victoria for a rare fall sitting of the legislature as well. And if the spring sitting was any indication, don't hold your breath hoping for much in the way of ministerial accountability.

What B.C.'s Proposed Woodfibre LNG Plant Means

Dermod Travis | Posted 09.23.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

The next election is in 2017. You suspect that voters might want to see a little something for all the hype before then, so what to do? Well, take one of the proposed projects and slam the pedal to the metal. And by all accounts, that project is the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant in Squamish.

Conflict Commissioner's Opinion On Pat Pimm Misses Mark By Country Mile

Dermod Travis | Posted 09.11.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

In a 40-page opinion released last week, B.C. Conflict of Interest Commissioner Paul Fraser pretty well cleared former Agriculture Minister Pat Pimm of any wrongdoing with respect to his obligations under the Members' Conflict of Interest Act, despite the odd "tsk, tsk" here and there.

What's Behind The Malaise With B.C.'s Local Elections?

Dermod Travis | Posted 09.02.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

In Vancouver, less than one in five eligible voters re-elected Gregor Robertson in 2011. In Victoria, less than one in six re-elected Dean Fortin. In Nanaimo, Kamloops, and Prince George, less than one in seven elected their mayors.

What We Should Take Away From The Mount Polley Spill

Dermod Travis | Posted 10.19.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

B.C.'s economy -- already facing what seems like the perfect economic storm of stagnant job growth, an acute skills shortage, and the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision on First Nation land title claims -- can now add one more low pressure system into that mix: the Mount Polley mine disaster.

The Alberta Billionaire, A B.C. Mine And Clark's Liberals

Dermod Travis | Posted 10.12.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

Nearly half of Imperial Metal's donations were made after Christy Clark was sworn in as premier, while $45,720 of Mount Polley's donations came via six separate cheques issued in one week alone in March 2013. Guess bank charges weren't an issue for the company.

Why B.C. Government's Purchase Card Records Are So Illuminating

Dermod Travis | Posted 09.22.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

That's politics. The public gets irate over the small amounts because they can relate to them. But the funny thing is that politicians who get the small things right generally don't screw up the bigger ones.

Troubling Isn't The Word For It, Minister De Jong

Dermod Travis | Posted 09.14.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

If cabinet ministers had theme songs, B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong's would likely be "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen," because when there's a misstep in government it's a safe bet he'll be troubled by it.

It's Time To Call Tech Support For The Elections BC Database

Dermod Travis | Posted 08.30.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

Part of the fault with the Elections BC database rests with the political parties and how they enter and supply data, and part lies with donors who sometimes opt to use slightly varied corporate names for donations to different parties. But the bulk of it lies with the database itself.

Why B.C.'s Murky Political Lobbying Industry Is So Troubling

Dermod Travis | Posted 08.19.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

The intertwining of lobbyists with a political party's fundraising apparatus is worrisome, because ultimately both sides risk developing a dependency on keeping the other happy and the money flowing. It rarely ends well.

Financial Reporting Season Opens At City Halls Across B.C.

Dermod Travis | Posted 08.10.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

It's that time of year again, when local governments across B.C. grit their teeth and post their annual statements of financial information for all and sundry. Depending upon your perspective, they're either a veritable treasure trove of news stories or a minefield of PR disasters waiting to happen.

Is Anyone Really Listening To B.C. Government Consultations?

Dermod Travis | Posted 08.02.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

In the last year, there have been government white papers, discussion papers, no papers but input welcome, questionnaires, and form consultations on everything from local elections to booze, electoral boundaries to area-based tree farm licences, and trustee laws to government apologies.

Red Flags Raised Over Multi-Million Dollar Infrastructure Projects Near You

Dermod Travis | Posted 07.24.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

Most of the billions spent on B.C. infrastructure projects in 2012 flew under the provincial radar. Out of sight, out of mind. Cost overruns rarely made a media ripple outside of the affected community. Yet, through various cost sharing formulas, we're all on the hook for them one way or another, whether it's the Vancouver Convention Centre expansion or new roads in Campbell River.

It's Not A Conflict Of Interest If It Happens In B.C.

Dermod Travis | Posted 07.14.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

When conflict of interest legislation is drafted to go out of its way to ensure that it won't actually find any conflicts of interest, it shouldn't come as a surprise if it rarely does. And that pretty well sums up the legislative reach of B.C.'s declawed Members' Conflict of Interest Act.

B.C. Government Math: When 1 Million May Actually Mean 210,000

Dermod Travis | Posted 05.11.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

The B.C. ministry responsible for jobs says the province has been clear on its job numbers. Yeah, clear as mud.

B.C.'s Budgetary Sleight Of Hand

Dermod Travis | Posted 04.30.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

The funny thing about provincial budgets is that sometimes they tell you a lot more about a government's attitude than what the politicians might have intended when they first wrote the document.

Too Many Struggling To Get By In A 'Have' Province

Dermod Travis | Posted 04.16.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

Halifax or Vancouver? Ask most folk which city boasts the higher median family income and chances are they'll say Vancouver. They couldn't be more wrong.

B.C. Campaign Spending Limits Should Be Like Comparing Grocery Prices

Dermod Travis | Posted 03.22.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

When you compare prices at the supermarket you usually look at comparable products, for instance you don't compare the price of a head of lettuce with a can of baked beans. It should be the same way with government consultations.

This Could Be Worse Than Gracie's Finger

Dermod Travis | Posted 03.08.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

In 1982, then Social Credit cabinet minister Grace McCarthy was suspected of using her influence to have her Little Mountain riding boundaries redrawn to include a sliver of a wealthy Vancouver neighbourhood. That sliver was forever known as Gracie's finger. Thirty-two years later, the B.C. government is proposing amendments that could make the controversy over Gracie's finger pale by comparison.

5 New Year's Resolutions For B.C.'s Politicians

Dermod Travis | Posted 03.01.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

It's that time when many of us make resolutions for the new year. So, in the spirit of the season, here are five ideas for B.C.'s politicians to consider as they set their resolutions for 2014.

The TransLink Referendum Won't be Pretty

Dermod Travis | Posted 01.27.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

TransLink -- everyone's favourite whipping boy in the Lower Mainland -- is about to be put to the electoral test and it promises not to be pretty. The fate of TransLink's future funding will be decided in the midst of the introduction of the Compass card, and Lower Mainland residents know full well how that initiative has been going as of late. It doesn't bode well for the vote.

Troubling Rumblings Around B.C.'s Agricultural Land Commission

Dermod Travis | Posted 01.25.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

Bill Bennett, minister responsible for the B.C. government's core review, is trying his darndest lately to reassure British Columbians that the government "has no plans to dismantle" the Agricultural Land Commission and that much of the speculation was simply the result of government "brainstorming." That's nice. Doesn't mean much in government-speak, but it sounds comforting. It's what comes next that should be of concern. In an interview with the Globe and Mail on Tuesday, Bennett confirmed that the Commission would, however, be subject to the government's core review.

Too many politicians in the municipal kitchen

Dermod Travis | Posted 01.23.2014 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

Who knew? Count 'em all up and B.C. has 1,660 elected officials sitting on 250 local councils and school boards across the province. That works out to one for every 2,000 registered voters. It's also a lot of paycheques. Some of the lucky ones get to collect two paycheques, if they happen to be chosen to sit on a regional district. The two biggies of course being Metro Vancouver and the Capital Regional District.

B.C.'s Local Election Reforms Do Nothing for Democracy

Dermod Travis | Posted 12.21.2013 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

No matter how well-intentioned the B.C. government's first round of electoral reforms may be, they are -- for the most part -- cosmetic in nature when contrasted against the public's very real loss of confidence in local democracy. Without meaningful electoral finance reform including election spending and contribution limits, candidacy for local government will -- by and large -- remain the purview of the affluent and well-connected.