Yesterday, British Columbia's tourism, culture and the arts minister rose to speak in defense of government legislation that will prepare British Columbia for the introduction of the harmonized sales tax. But Kevin Krueger got a little sidetracked, taking the opportunity to also speak in defense of Insurance Corporation of British Columbia chair T. Richard Turner. As we exclusively reported earlier this month, Mr. Turner has a longstanding business relationship with the Las Vegas-based company that recently inked a 70-year lease agreement with PavCo to build a major casino near BC Place. That relationship became controversial when the minister revealed Mr. Turner phoned him late last year to discuss what the lack of a retractable roof for that stadium would mean for Paragon Gaming. The New Democrats capitalized on that revelation inside and outside the legislature, seemingly infuriating the minister.
"I want to talk about Rick Turner, a great man in British Columbia, a man who does yeoman service for British Columbians chairing the Insurance Corporation of B.C.," he said. "His term is coming to a conclusion, although he extended it for us. He chaired the B.C. Lottery Corporation."
"His reputation has been sullied by the members opposite, when he did nothing untoward. His name has been mudslung (sic) by the NDP opposition throughout recent weeks, and it's just wrong," he concluded, later urging "the members opposite to stop slurring a good man like Rick Turner."
The minister earlier stated Mr. Turner's phone call happened after PavCo selected Paragon Gaming as its preferred bidder to develop the lands west of BC Place.
A Paragon Gaming spokesperson earlier said Mr. Turner "was not involved" in that bid, with the minister stating the ICBC chair "did not participate in the negotiations at all and had no influence in the content of the lease whatsoever."