British Columbia's new tourism, culture and the arts minister is owed money by a Cranbrook guide outfitting company. This, according to Bill Bennett's most recent public dislcosure statement. In an interview with Public Eye, Minister Bennett explained he was a Height of the Rockies Adventure Co. Ltd. shareholder prior to the 2001 election. "I sold my shares. But the company couldn't afford to pay me my shareholder loan. So, in corporate terms, the loan converted from being a shareholder loan to just a straight term loan with no conditions of repayment. So the company owes me - and, again, I don't have my records - but I think it's between $60,000 and $70,000. And I obviously would like to get paid. But the company doesn't make a lot of money. So they haven't been able to repay me."
Mr. Bennett said he checked whether that loan would put him in conflict with his new responsibilities as tourism minister. "What I found was that the ministry of environment has the legislation for guide outfitters - not the ministry of tourism. And I found that the tenuring of camps is done through the (integrated land management bureau). So the ministry of environment and LMB have the legislation and regulations pertaining to the guide outfitting businesses. I don't have any of that in my ministry." That being said, "if something ever came up in cabinet regarding this specific business - even though I haven't been a shareholder for at least eight years - I would abstent myself because that would be the right thing to do given that there's a loan there."