Private interests should be publicized

Did you know the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority's new chair Kip Woodward has a stake in a private hospital? Were you aware T. Richard Turner put money into an Alberta casino development when he was chair of the British Columbia Lottery Corp. Well, I didn't until I did some digging into their backgrounds. But British Columbians deserve better from what's supposed to be the most open and accountable government in Canada.

Let me explain: right now, elected officials are required to publicly disclose their investments in annual statements filed with the conflict of interest commissioner. That way, voters can judge for themselves whether their politicians are acting in the public interest or their own private interest.

But the government's senior bureaucrats and board appointees are under no such obligations - even though some of them have more power than many cabinet ministers. And that just doesn't seem right.

So here's what I propose: require those senior bureaucrats and board appointees to also file annual disclosure statements. And that way it won't take the skills of an investigative journalist to find out about whatever perceived or possible conflicts might be in their backgrounds.

2 Comments

a) Let's see who wins the face-off today. If the BCLibs were smart, they'd placate the media with massive public disclosure reforms like this one. If the BCNDP are smart, they'll mention the editorial in QP w/ the first question and set the week's tone. If things go as I expect, not hope, the BCLibs will walk away from this as if nothing happened.

b) I said not hope because it's worth noting that with so much power in the hands of senior bureaucrats and board appointees... with a government propelled to victory in 2001 by Mark Milke's tome Barbarians in the Garden City and his assertion that, "given the degree of concentrated power that exists in a society, one is likely to find a similar degree of abuse at some point. Leave concentrated power on the floor and someone, some day, will pick it up. ... Think of concentrated power as similar to nitroglycerin. Not something you want in the hands of crazies or incompetents. ... Minor ways to whittle away at political power include simply getting information about abuses out there in the public arena." Perhaps its time the BCLibs went back to the 1990s... studying them, that is.

I see your point Sean, but it won't happen. Here's why: the public service agency is supposed to vet job applicants to the public service, after that employees are supposed to be bound by the oath of office and standards of conduct. If an employee slips, those are the vehicles that are supposed to be used to address and correct.

That's how it's viewed inside. Plus the union would never agree to it; not to protect employees, but to maintain the illusion of power and control.

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