Provincial Liberal House Leader Mike de Jong will be the serving the good people of Abbotsford-Mount Lehman for another three years as their elected representative. But that hasn't stopped him from pursuing a second career - as a talk radio host. For the past month, the labour and citizens' service minister has been co-hosting an hour-long English-lanaguage public affairs show on Sher-e-Punjab every Friday at noon with station owner Sukh Badh.
In an interview, Mr. Badh explained "I just felt that the community needs to be in touch with the government. And the government needs to be in touch with the community. And it's about time that the community got to speak directly with the elected officials - to open up the channels of communication." He also said Minister de Jong was not paying to host the show nor was he being paid for his services by the station - which broadcasts almost exclusively in Punjabi.
When asked why he didn't have a New Democrat MLA hostiing a show on Sher-e-Punjab to balance out Minister de Jong, Mr. Badh answered "I've offered it to them as well...And I'm encouraging everyone to be as open and accessible as they can be." In response, New Democrat communications director Jim Rutkowski told Public Eye, "To my knowledge, no one has been approached" about being a host on Sher-e-Punjab, although he couldn't be certain that Mr. Badth hadn't made the offer privately to individual MLAs.
Interestingly, last November, rumours were circulating Mr. Badh would be receiving a patronage appointment. But that appointment didn't happen. And, at the time, Mr. Badh said he wouldn't have accepted the job anyway. Minister De Jong has not yet returned a call from Public Eye, placed last week, seeking comment about his on-air activities.