When did James know?

Public Eye has almost wrapped-up our month-long investigation into provincial New Democrat president Moe Sihota's controversial stipend. We now know the value of that stipend: $75,600. We know who's principally funding it: the Canadian Union of Public Employees British Columbia and the United Steelworkers. And we also know the decision to do so was made by the party's table officers in December 2009 - something opposition caucus members weren't officially told about for ten months, according to Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald. But we still don't know when party leader Carole James found out about the stipend - a question she repeatedly refused to answer during a scrum with reporters earlier this month.

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Now questions remain. Did NDP table officers have constitutional authority to approve the expenditure? Have appropriate signing officers approved payments and recorded them correctly in the party's accounts. If they did not have the right to make payments to the President, presumably a member could hold them personally liable. Do officers normally advise caucus members when they approve items for payment? Were policies for financial disclosure followed? Is there an internal audit committee that routinely examines transactions? Is there an external audit?

My training as an accountant suggested payments should be examined first to determine that routine methods of approval and recording were followed, and whether the approvals were in accordance with authorities granted the officers.

I still hold the opinion this is an issue for the party members more than the general public but it seems that if a few questions were answered, there could be an end to this investigation.

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