John Horgan didn't hold back while questioning Premier Christy Clark on a rather puzzling $150,000 donation that ended up indirectly benefitting her brother.
A donation that appears to have no paper trail, policy, or even a record that the request for the donation was ever made. The donation went to a First Nations school in Haida Gwaii that oddly enough is under federal responsibility, not provincial, to complete a feasibility study on building a new gym for their school.
It's also worth noting that there had already been two of these studies done on the same school in the past 10 years paid for by federal funds.
While reading some of the exchange between Horgan and Clark (found here), I can't say I was too surprised to learn that an FOI into any and all communication related to this donation turned up absolutely nothing. So, like most things surrounding Clark and the B.C. Liberals, there seems to be a thick cloud of secrecy surrounding this decision. We are left with more questions than answers.
If Clark has decided it to be good practice to give out one-time donations of $150k to schools, how do other First Nations schools -- or any school, for that matter -- apply for such funds? I know there's a school in my district whose gym is half the size of any other similarly-sized school, and it desperately needs expanding and upgrading.
Not to mention the school in Saanich whose gym roof had been leaking for 20 years and was consistently denied funding to fix it, until recent parental outrage gained media attention.
Why was this First Nations school chosen over at least a dozen others that are in worse shape, or the 193 other schools in this province that are at high risk in the event of an earthquake? Clark says it's simply a coincidence that the school she choose to donate this cheque to -- without any form of written request -- just happened to be made in the midst of an election where Chief Ken Rae was seeking re-election (which he ended up narrowly winning shortly after Clark made the donation).
Here's where it gets really interesting: Chief Ken Rae has been a supporter of Clarks brother's proposed wind farm for some time now -- a business deal worth millions. If he had failed to be re-elected the deal would have died, as the other candidate didn't support it.
Clark is pleading ignorance on the whole thing and says she knew absolutely nothing about her brother's business deal, or his relationship with Chief Rae. I'm not sure about you but I find that rather hard to believe.
Where did the request for this donation come from? An FOI request turned up absolutely nothing. No written communication of any sort. No formal request. No policy or change to policy that would support such a donation to a federally funded school. So it's rather puzzling as to why Clark would decide, seemingly out of the blue, to pick this school at random, fly up to Haida Gwaii, and hand-deliver a cheque for $150k just to quickly turn around and leave.
I find it rather troubling that our premier clings to this mandate of yearly cuts to public education funding to the point that we are now watching towns being forced to close their only high school, school boards being forced into making devastating cuts to bus services, EA's, student supports, and janitorial time among other things.
As parents we are stuck in a constant state of fundraising, yet somehow, someway, she has no problem handing out cheques to schools the province isn't even in charge of without even being asked to do so.
I imagine that if some of our public schools had business deals with some of Clark's family, they too could get some surprise cheques personally delivered by Clark herself.
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