Stefanson: "...we don't see it as a conflict of interest."

British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.'s newest director Stephen Smith runs several Prince Rupert businesses which are impacted by ferry service to that city. But the the ferry service's public affairs vice-president Mark Stefanson has said he doesn't think Mr. Smith's board appointment will put the hotelier in a conflict of interest.

According to the news release announcing that appointment, Mr. Smith is "the President or CEO of a number of Prince Rupert hospitality-related businesses including the Crest Hotel and the Pacific Inn."

Indeed, in 2006, The Province's Michael Smith wrote the "family's economic well-being is tied up" in those hotels, which were "built with the expectation B.C. Ferries would bring boatloads of tourists every summer." And, when the Queen of the North sank, the hotelier reported a number of summer cancellations.

Asked about the matter, Mr. Stefanson told Public Eye, "Our board members have to go through a conflict of interest review. Prince Rupert, Port Hardy and the Queen Charlottes clearly benefit by our service. And we have had business people in the past from various communities sitting on our board. So, clearly, we don't see it as a conflict of interest."

In fact, said Mr. Stefanson, "We're really pleased he's joining our board because he provides such a wealth of knowledge on how to stimulate tourism for the north. That's one of our major goals is to increase our marketing activity to promote more northern growth. So, from our perspective, it's a real plus that he's joining our board to assist us in that regard."

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