In 2001, the Liberals fired longtime New Democrat friend and Clark government appointee Lecia Stewart as the director responsible for the Province's $1.167 billion Millennium SkyTrain Line expansion project, awarding her a $401,000 severance package. So wouldn't it be knee-slapping hilarious if Ms. Stewart, who has been working as Bombardier Transportation's North American high-speed rail vice-president for the past two years, became involved with her company bid to win the Campbell administration's much-prized Richmond-Airport-Vancouver rapid transit line contract? Because that's been the scuttlebutt ever since Ms. Stewart moved back to North Vancouver home - even though her department remains based in Quebec.
Bombardier communications director Helene Gagon pooh-poohed those rumours, saying Ms. Stewart returned to Lotusland for "personal reasons." But, when asked whether Ms. Stewart might become involved with the rapid transit project if the company wins that bid, Ms. Gagon told Public Eye, "Really I couldn't tell you because, right now, she is extremely busy...with a couple high-speed rail projects in North America...But we'll see in a couple months. Maybe you might want to call me back?"
Ms. Stewart's career included stints working as a newspaper reporter and for the Hospital Employees Union, where she married then secretary-business manager Jack Gerow. She was brought into the provincial civil service by the New Democrats in 1991 and quickly developed a close professional relationship with aboriginal affairs deputy minister Eric Denhoff.
When Mr. Denhoff was appointed the chairman of B.C. Transit in 1992, she became his vice-president. While filling that position, the Crown corporation paid for her to take courses at Harvard University - a spending decision that was criticized in the legislature by Liberal Opposition member Doug Symons. Ms. Stewart then moved on to become the general manager of the West Coast Express commuter train project in 1995, where she spent $55 million to purchase 28 rail cars from Bombardier.
Then, in 1998, Ms. Stewart was put in charge of building the millennium line. While working on that project, she ordered $270 million worth of equipment and cars from the Montreal-based transportation company. Four years later, she was appointed to the board of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority by then federal Transportation Minister David Collenette. That appointment is set to expire in 2005.
Mr. Denhoff, who is currently a principal for executive search firm Western Executive Selections Inc. and director with the uber-secretive National Capital Commission in Ottawa, became the chair of Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin Inc.'s British Columbia development board when he left government. SNC-Lavalin is competing with Bombardier for the rapid transit line contract.