In an interview yesterday, Surrey school board chairman Shawn Wilson confirmed he believes provincial Liberal by-election candidate Mary Polak's organizers used a fabricated quote attributed to him in their campaign literature. But, when Public Eye contacted Ms. Polak earlier today, the Surrey school trustee strongly denied that allegation.
At issue: a pamphlet where Mr. Wilson is quoted as saying, "Last year, the NDP-controlled Vancouver school board ended up with around $19 million in liabilities - in Surrey, Mary Polak put students first - we have no liabilities, we built ten new schools and we bought new textbooks and equipment."
Mr. Wilson denies ever making or even approving the use of that statement.
"I'm a friend of Mary's. She's a pal. And I wouldn't have had any problems with a quote that embellished her positive characteristics." But he says the quote that appeared in the pamphlet, "was an unfair comment...And it put me in a rather uncomfortable position because it would be so out of character for me to slam other people."
"I'm just assuming someone in her campaign made up the quote and used it without my approval, which was not very helpful to me," especially when his school board received a letter from its Vancouver counterpart in early December, asking Mr. Wilson to backup his alleged accusations.
But Ms. Polak told us "My understanding is (that quote) was confirmed with Shawn. I know he says he doesn't have any recollection of that. But that's what I understand."
She says her campaign manager Chris Gardner would likely have been the individual who authored the quote and got it approved by Mr. Wilson.
Ms. Polak then added the whole situation is "unfortunate. But the facts in the quote are accurate."
But the Vancouver school board might have somthing to say about that. According to Mr. Wilson, "If they haven't contacted Mary at this point, I think its only a matter of time before they will. Because I could tell from the letter that this just wasn't general interest on their part. They have bat in hand waiting. And I didn't want to be in the way."
Public Eye was unable to reach Mr. Gardner by publication time. Ms. Polak is currently looking to grab the provincial Liberal nomination in Langley.