Standing up for the voiceless and powerless

The executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association is calling for a review of the process by which a Liberal supporter was appointed to the electoral boundaries commission. "The designing of electoral boundaries requires absolute public confidence in the fairness of the distribution of those boundaries. And, consequently, you want the people that are involved in making recommendations and designing boundaries to be above and beyond reproach in their independence in avoiding any conflict or even any perception of having political partisan connections," said Murray Mollard in an interview with your humble organ.

Louise Burgart was appointed by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Bill Barisoff to the supposedly non-partisan commission last week, following consultation with the premier and the Opposition leader. The news release announcing that appointment described her as a former school principal, superintendant and the owner of Apex Mountain Resort - which is in Mr. Barisoff's riding.

But subsequent research by Public Eye has revealed Ms. Burgart campaigned on behalf of Liberal MLA John Rustad and her company donated $2,900 to the party (apparently, without her knowledge). Apex Mountain Resort (1997) Ltd. also contributed $1,000 to Mr. Barisoff's 2001 election campaign. And Ms. Burgart penned a fawning letter praising the Campbell administration which was published in the Prince George Citizen on the eve of the last election.

Mr. Mollard, who was reacting to that research, also said Ms. Burgart might want to reconsider accepting her appointment to the commission "in the interest of maintaining the highest level of public confidence in the process for creating electoral boundaries." A version of this article will be published in today's edition of 24 hours.

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