Independent living?

Inside the legislature, Bill Barisoff is responsible for impartially interpreting its rules and traditions. But, outside the precincts, Public Eye has learned the speaker of the legislative assembly shares his Victoria accommodations with Premier Gordon Campbell - raising the eyebrows of one of the province's most seasoned political observers.

MLAs elect one of their colleagues to be the speaker at the start of each new parliament - with the government putting forward its preferred candidate in advance of that vote.

Once elected to that post, the MLA becomes the legislature's referee, setting aside partisanship to ensure elected officials on both sides of the aisle are treated fairly.

Mr. Barisoff, a Liberal, has been the speaker since September 2005, being re-elected to that job in August 2009.

But, in an email, a spokesperson for the premier's office confirmed that outside the legislature Mr. Barisoff rents the second bedroom in his condominium to Campbell when he stays overnight in the capital city.

Asked about that arrangement, the spokesperson stated Mr. Barisoff "reputation as a neutral and independent speaker who ensure both sides of the house follow established rules and procedures speaks for itself and we are not aware of any suggestion to the contrary."

"Every member has an equal opportunity to meet with the speaker," the spokesperson continued. "In fact, due to the premier's schedule he has less opportunity to meet with the speaker than most members."

But, in an interview with Public Eye, University of Victoria political science professor emeritus Norman Ruff said, "I don't think it's a hanging offence. But it makes you raise your eyebrows."

"I wouldn't turn around a jump around and condemn him for doing it. But the optics of it is not good," he continued. "It's probably preferable if (Mr. Barisoff) didn't" share his accommodations with the premier.

This isn't the first time Mr. Barisoff has raised eyebrows since being elected speaker.

Back in 2005, we reported he had appointed a Liberal supporter - Louise Burgart - to the non-partisan commission responsible for redrawing the boundaries of British Columbia's ridings.

Following extensive coverage of that appointment by Public Eye, Ms. Burgart - who owns and is a director with a ski resort in the speaker's riding - stepped down.

11 Comments

It's absolutely amazing the way certain people will try to condone whatever Gordo does, no matter how ill-advised and undemocratic.

This morning, a column by Mark Marissen appeared in Vancouver Sun in which he asks "How can we blame [Campbell] for not announcing his intention to bring in the HSTax before the 2009 election ... " and adds "What would YOU have done?" Presumably that's the cue for everyone to sing along with a happy chorus of "Teach us how to lie and cheat, teach us how to WIN ..."

One commenter left a message saying that a long hot shower with a lot of soap was required after reading Marissen's defence of Campbell-style morality.

But Bill Barisoff, Honoured Speaker of the BC Legislature, thinks he is doing nothing wrong.

So ... like, maybe the BC Lieutenant-Governor should move in with the Speaker of the House? Or the Chief Constable of VicPD? Or the Mayor of Vancouver when he comes to Victoria? Or Patrick Dohm for BC Supreme Court?

No likey? Well, having Gordo sharing your bathroom is just as bad ... only worse.

Oh sure, I forgot. Neither Bill nor Gordo nor any of their circle would ever talk shop after hours. Never.
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I'm sure that if the Premier were a woman and the speaker a man the outrage would be so loud you could have better hearing working at Victoria Airport.

I'm also sure the Premier should get his or her own mansion and sleeping there required near-perfect QP attendance. Problem is, most taxpayer$ think the Premier is paid too much already but don't want to specify a salary (I had this debate w/ some folks shortly after the '09 BCLib three-peat).

You mean after arbitrarily giving himself a 54% pay increase, the cheap sociopathic tyrant, Gordon Campbell, can't afford his own condo?

Who does the Precious Princess Polak (P3) bunk with?

On a different topic, I wonder how much the Premier spends on travelling back and forth to his real home base (Vanc.)?

It seems like the BCNDP smear guns are firing away today. Gosh, what set them off?

The Premier is not a tyrant, he won a free and open election almost a year ago. I guess to the BCNDP, if they lose to you, you're Satan. Perhaps being BCNDP is having a psychological disorder...

no Josef it amounts to having morals. the NDP dont have to smear anything it looks more like there going to be the clean-up crew, the BC Libs havent learned how clean up there own mess, take the HST for example or the sale of BC Rail.

Be real Jusef. IT was a rigged election or we would have known about the HST and Site Campbell oh and where the guilt lies with BCRail prior to it and about the size of the deficit. If the liberals could just tell us the facts on anything and keep the smelly deals to a minimum maybe we could put up with them. Just the truth thats all. And an impartial speaker.

I wonder if Josef works for the PAB? Defending an obvious conflict of interest like this is ridiculous in the extreme. This government has become so arrogant that it thinks it can justify anything no matter how bad it is. This smelly government needs to go sooner than later.

It is nice to hear that Mr. Barisoff makes sure that both sides of the Legislature are treated fairly. I would like to know when will we get some politicians that will treat the taxpayers fairly.

And here I thought he only slept with CEO's...

No and I never defended the Premier's bunking arrangements. I'd prefer he have his own mansion or at least condo.

Oh and cfvua it's Josef and last year was a free, open and fair election. The HST was decided shortly after the election with the bigger deficit destroying the optimist budget. Yet, with a bigger deficit the education budget is higher than what the BCNDP socialists would give. Not to mention wonderful Olympics... Also Site C/Dam Gordon Campbell is still being debated in the legislature I understand.

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