What's good for the gander

Today, as part of the provincial government's budget update, Finance Minister Carole Taylor announced the cost of an earlier announced tax incentive specifically benefiting British Columbia's biotech industry - $20 million annually. At the time, we reported on the premier's personal and partisan connection to that industry. And since then, Elections British Columbia has released filings showing QLT Inc., the province's leading biotech firm, donated $102,990 to the Liberal's election campaign. So is there any connection between the tax incentive and those incentives? That's the question we posed to Minister Taylor at the lock-up. The following is a complete transcript of that interview.

Public Eye Carole, I noticed this government is paying particular attention to the life sciences sector to the tune of about $20 million annually. I would also note the Liberal party received about $100,000 from QLT - BC's leading biotech company - and the premier has a good personal relationship with (biotech lawyer) Hector MacKay-Dunn. I just wondered if you wanted to comment on the juxtaposition of those two pieces of information.

Minister Taylor Well, I know Hector. And I have no idea what he has to do with QLT...

Public Eye He's actually been QLT's lawyer on a number of occassions.

Minister Taylor Well, I have no idea. And I'm sitting in finance. And I also have no idea about the funders of the provincial election. This is something that has been in the public domain since - I'm not sure when it was first announced but I was speaking with Minister Hansen this morning. And they were talking about this idea last spring. And the premier certainly talked about it in June publicly. It is a tax initiative that we believe will help keep some of our important biotech companies here. We believe it is the right thing to do. We look at how we nurture them and we keep them here and we give research help. We have universities geared to pulling in this critical mass of people doing really smart things for society. And we don't want to lose them once they're successful. It's as simple as that. It's broader than QLT. This is going to touch forestry. It's going to touch aquaculture, mining. There are many areas that are doing work with living organisms. And I assure you I wouldn't bring in a tax policy that I didn't think was the right thing for British Columbia.

Public Eye Can you assure British Columbians that neither of those parties was involved in negotiations or determining the structure of that particular (tax instrument)?

Minister Taylor We started to work on the design of this when I came in in June. And I have been working with finance staff since that time. And I have never had anything to do with any of the companies you mentioned.

5 Comments

Funny thing, though, is that I had always equated QLT as somehow aligned with the New Democrats.

Julia Levi, co-founder of QLT and executive chairperson of the scientific advisory board of QLT, apparently supports centre-left causes.

She actively supported New Democrat Gregor Robertson's 2005 campaign and was also a supporter of the Friends of Larry Campbell.

Any smart businessperson or group plays both sides of the fence. The only trick is doing it in such a way that each party thinks that the "love" only flows to them!

Or maybe it's just good public policy. Supporting Bio-tech is now a bad thing?

John, John, John!

Nice try but no bananas. The issue raised by Mr. Holman is not that supporting bio-tech with government financial incentives is bad but rather that friends of the Liberal Party are recieving benefits in return for their financial support of the Party.

If you want to comment on this issue directly (which I think is very tenuously presented to us by Mr. muckraking Holman) please feel free to do so but let's leave the straw man in the field where it belongs.

September 15, 2005

ROBBINS Sce Research (1998)
www.robbinssceresearch.com

For immediate Release

Question #1-In your opinion should the BC Utilities Commission allow the sale of Terasen Gas to the U.S. Corporation Kinder Morgan?

Yes-32.5%
No-67.5%

Question #2-In your opinion should the BC Utilities Commission permit the increase in gas prices to consumers in the amount of approximately 13%?

Yes-29%
No-71%

Question #3-After the Vancouver civic election November 19, 2005 which political association would you like to see possess a ‘voting majority’ on the Vancouver School Board?

Non-Partisan Association-47.5%
COPE-48.5%
Other-4.0%

Question #4-After Vancouver’s civic election November 19, 2005 which political association would you like to see with a voting majority on City Council including Mayor?

Non-Partisan Association-48%
COPE plus Vision Vancouver-51%

Question #5-Of these three ‘Vancouver’ political personalities which one would you prefer to be your next Mayor after November 19, 2005?

Christy Clark-25%
Sam Sullivan-29%
Jim Green-46%

Question #6- (only to those respondents who selected either Christy Clark or Sam Sullivan in Question #5). If the person you selected as the one you prefer in Question #5 does not win the NPA nomination scheduled for this September, will you support the other NPA candidate that you did not select, when that candidate goes against Jim Green for the Mayor’s job?

Yes-95%
No-04%

Commentary-This ‘combo’ survey on applications before the BC Utilities Commission and questions relating to Vancouver civic politics provides some additional insight into the minds of Vancouver voters prior to the upcoming civic elections in November of 2005. These responses reveal ‘class divides’ in the City.

People on the East side of Main Street overwhelmingly don’t want Terasen to be sold to U.S. conglomerate Kinder Morgan. The majority of respondents who answered “Yes” in Question #1 live on the West side.

Similarly, those on the East side are in the majority in saying that approval should not be given for higher Gas rates, while fewer respondents on the West side accept a 13% increase as compared to a sale of the entire company to U.S. interests.

Civic races for School Board, City Council and the Mayor’s Chair will be close but Christy Clark has slightly shorter coattails for School Board than Sam Sullivan. What’s very interesting is the fact that although the Christy Clark plus Sam Sullivan support in Question #5 exceeds Jim Greens support, Question #6 tells us that virtually all of Sam Sullivan’s ‘supporters’ will take Christy as second choice, while Christy’s ‘supporters’ (in total) are slightly less inclined to support Sam Sullivan.

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