A working man's wage

Money from two major unions is paying the lion's share of provincial New Democrat president Moe Sihota's controversial stipend, Public Eye has exclusively learned. The party confirmed it was paying Mr. Sihota using a "generous, earmarked gift from the labour movement" late last month. But it's refused to answer some specific questions about the arrangement - including which members of the movement put money in that pot. Sources within the New Democrats have said some MLAs are upset about being kept in the dark about the deal for almost a year, while others are concerned about how it was structured. Party officials - including Mr. Sihota - tried to allay some of those concerns during a closed door meeting of the New Democrats' governing council this past Sunday. Delegates were told the stipend is being funded, in part, using two $30,000 donations from the Canadian Union of Public Employees British Columbia and the United Steelworkers.

CUPE BC president Barry O'Neil confirmed the contribution in an interview with Public Eye stating, "I'm glad they decided to use it where they use it. And certainly I feel good about that."

"If you want someone to do full-time work for the party, you need to make sure they're at least compensated on it. I don't think there can be any arguments we're talking about a million-dollar golden handshake. This is a pretty minimal compensation package."

"It didn't seem overly offensive to me. I thought it was the right thing we should do. The problem is, of course, is whenever you hook a name like Moe Sihota to that it's a little different than if you're dealing with Joe Smith getting compensation."

United Steelworkers Division Three director Steve Hunt didn't respond to a request for comment placed Monday. British Columbia Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair came forward in October to say his group donated $4,000 toward Mr. Sihota's stipend.


This is another example of not what was done but how it was done.

Yeah, kinda like HST. And Moe was treated in the 90s like the mastermind's behind the genus HST will be treated.

So Moe has been working for almost a year, yet the article indicates 30,000 dollars. Does anyone know for sure just what he is getting paid? Is the party paying for compensation benefits etc. Maybe MS. James might enlighten us.

Who funds the executives of the BC Liberal Party? Are donations to that party by corporations and business lobby groups worthy of similar scrutiny?

Business donates to the Liberals because the Liberals look after their interests. Labor donates to the NDP because that is the only party sympathetic to trade unions.

I don't see the legs on this story.

The legs on this story fell off the day before before yesterday. But Sean Holman maybe didn't hear that. And as Norm Farrell has enquired, what would we find out if similar energies were expended on "outing" corporate gifts and goodies, stipends, and other benefits lavished on the Campbell Liberals this past decade?

"Bob Simpson says he knows the reason why embattled NDP leader Carol James has taken up a more aggressive and controlling leadership approach since the last election: Moe Sihota."

"Perhaps the most dramatic episode of an evening filled with Simpson and MacDonald outlining their criticism and concerns with party and their prescriptions for change was when last-minute attendee NDP MLA Harry Lali took the floor to expose his support for Simpson.

“I was never kicked out of caucus for anything I did, and I was a repeat offender,” said Lali. “Somebody wanted to shut him up from asking the right questions ... and get him the hell out of there. That is why he (was) kicked out.”

After the meeting, Simpson said his fate was sealed once he started asking questions about the ethical nature of Sihota’s activities, especially when it came to decisions regarding withholding money from riding associations and Sihota’s decision to not let the party know he was going to be accepting money from three unions when he ran and won as NDP president.

“Moe Sihota admitted at provincial council that he made a deal with the unions before he even stood for election that he would get paid for the job,” said Simpson.

“When he stood at convention, he never declared that: ‘Here are the grounds that (the party) will elect me as president. I will get paid $74,000 a year so know that (because) that is one of my requirements.’

“So the convention was not told. He was elected, as far as I am concerned, on an unethical premise, because he did not reveal that. We never knew as a caucus. The party executive never knew that he was getting this pay from the unions until 10 months into it.”

Simpson said that once Sihota took over as president Carole James started using bully politics.

“It’s Moe Sihota. One hundred per cent Moe Sihota,” said Simpson after the meeting. “Moe Sihota is the penultimate bully politician.”

Simpson said that a fundamental weakness in James’ personality, buoyed by Sihota, is her inability to embrace others’ strengths.

“A good political leader in my mind needs to sit there and say, ‘OK, I have got (the MLAs) I have got, now what are all their strengths and how can I maximize those strengths,’” he said.

“She is frightened by them. She sees it wrong and I think the yellow scarf campaign this weekend proved that in spades. Instead of embracing all the people that were saying, ‘We are struggling.’ And saying what is the nature of that struggle and how do we fix it. It is, ‘You are struggling, you better do what I damn well tell you to do.’”

“A lot of people described it as cult-like,” said Simpson. “It is clearly insidious and appalling in a party that prides itself on diversity; prides itself on individual rights and freedoms. And if you look at some of the people in the 13 — who does Carole James think she is to call Jenny Kwan a dissident and a complainer?”

Simpson said the yellow scarf episode is an example of what needs to change in the party.

“Moe Sihota is one of a cadre of people who broke the NDP in the 1990s end ended up collapsing (the caucus) down to two people, and now he is back in charge of the NDP again and he is going to do the same thing,” he said.


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