On Wednesday, former broadcast journalist Robin Adair was acclaimed as the provincial Liberal candidate in Saanich South. The news release announcing that acclamation highlights Mr. Adair's past role as the chair of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce and his present role as the chair of Camosun College's board of governors. But neither that release nor his Website mention Mr. Adair's recent work as the communications and government relations vice-president of WCG International Consultants Ltd. - one of two companies contracted to provide welfare-to-work services for the province.
Asked about that omission on Public Eye Radio yesterday, Mr. Adair said, "Well, the Website isn't very developed. As somebody I know who has made Websites a whole way of life, you'll notice my Website is still in its infant stages. So give me a chance on the Website. As for the media release, we didn't emphasize WCG because there were a lot of other things to emphasize in terms of my more recent community involvement."
"I'm not trying to evade anything with the fact I have worked at WCG," he continued. "WCG was a major contract for me over the past seven years. I was a contracted vice-president of communications and government relations with the company. And that's what I was doing up till the end of October. So it was fairly recent as well."
"But the bottom-line is, as it says, it's a consulting company. And all the people that were management people at that company were also consultants independently - as well as part of WCG." That meant Mr. Adair continued to work on other projects - including organizing conferences and job fairs - while under contract with the job placement firm.
"I'm not trying to hide anything," he stressed, adding he didn't have a financial interest in WCG. "I'm the guy that helps with the press release. I'm the guy who answers questions from people like Sean Holman when they come around and ask questions about these things."
But that work ended on October 31, when Providence decided "to de-emphasize the things I do - which is communications, job fairs, brochure production, special events. All the things that I was responsible for were gradually going to be taken out of circulation and probably out-sourced. So, over the summer, I started to help people that were working in my department find other ways of making a living, knowing I would probably be the next one to go. And, by the fall, I was negotiating my way out of my time with WCG."
Nevertheless, Mr. Adair promised the media and Saanich South constituents "will see lots about WCG (in future pieces of campaign literature). WCG put 60,000 people back to work. It's a great company. And I'm very proud of the people I worked with."
WCG, which was purchased by Providence Service Corp. in 2007, pioneered private job placement services in British Columbia. But that pioneering work has also attracted media scrutiny.
A September 9, 2004 report prepared for the human resources ministry raised questions about the effectiveness of the services offered by the four welfare-to-work contractors then employed by the government - including WCG.
And, in an interview with Public Eye, Providence chairman and chief executive officer Fletcher McCusker acknowledged there "has been some public concerns expressed regarding the profitability" of WCG - which last year lost a $8 million contract to provide job placement services in the Interior.
The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned release.
ADAIR ACCLAIMED IN SAANICH SOUTH
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 2009
VICTORIA -- South Saanich will be a key battleground riding for the return of the BC Liberals in the coming May 12 election, Robin Adair declared last night after being acclaimed as the riding's candidate. Adair told a cheering crowd of supporters that the key issues facing voters are the economy, health care, education and the environment.
"The BC Liberals have an outstanding record of achievement which has made British Columbia one of the best economies in North America," Adair said.
"Saanich South has an amazing potential and I'm excited to be part of its exciting future," he said. "The riding has the potential to lead Canada in job creation through the growth of its high-tech sector, green technologies and sustainable forms of agriculture and food production.
Adair is a well-known former TV and radio broadcaster, Chair of the Camosun College Board of Governors and formerly Chair of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce (2006). He has operated a communications consulting business since 2000.
"Greater Victoria has the lowest unemployment rate in the country and this is largely thanks to the strength and diversity of our local economy. In Saanich South, our knowledge-based infrastructure includes Camosun's Inter-Urban Campus and the Vancouver Island Technology Park, an enterprise of the University of Victoria. These are two key areas for future growth and innovation.
Adair believes that BC will be able to better withstand the current economic downturn thanks to the standards put in place by Premier Campbell and the BC Liberals. He points out that provincial health care funding has increased by 60 per cent since 2001 while education funding has been fully maintained. Adair adds that protecting the environment and will continue to be a major cornerstone of BC Liberal policy.
As a member of the BC Legislative Press Gallery, I had the privilege of watching and learning from many active, committed political leaders," said Adair. "It has long been my dream to serve my community in elected office and I welcome this opportunity to serve the people of South Saanich.
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