Yesterday, the premier's office announced David Podmore, the president and chief executive officer of Vancouver-based development company Concert Properties Inc., had been appointed to the British Columbia Progress Board. That appointment, which essentially makes Mr. Podmore an economic advisor to the provincial government, could be the source of some embarrassment for the union movement. After all, Concert Properties is owned by union and management pension funds. And the unions aren't too happy with the government right now.
But, in an interview today, Mr. Podmore explained the company's directors, "discussed (the appointment) a week ago and were wholeheartedly in support." Those directors include a number of past and present union leaders including former Industrial, Wood and Allied Workers Union president Dave Haggard, Telecommunications Workers Union president Rod Hiebert, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada national representative Dave Schaub and Don McGill, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 213 (among others).
Mr. Podmore also dismissed suggestions union insiders had advised him against joining the progress board, which meets four times a year. He then added "Just like any other business we want to be able to help deal with issues that are important to the province as a whole. And we also want to make sure people are aware of any concerns we may have."
Mr. Podmore, who has a longstanding relationship with the premier and newspaper mogul David Black (who also chairs the progress board), had earlier gotten into trouble with the union movement when Georgia Straight newshound Charlie Smith revealed Concert Properties had donated $16,665 to the provincial Liberals in 2003. Company board member Ken Georgetti, the president of the Canadian Labour Congress, was instrumental in convincing Mr. Podmore and company chairman Jack Poole to personally repay most of that donation. Mr. Georgetti, who sat on the board for 15 years, resigned his seat in July.