NDP president's pay disclosure never written down

Senior provincial New Democrat officials were told about party president Moe Sihota's controversial stipend within weeks of him winning that office. But Public Eye has exclusively learned that disclosure was never written down. The stipend - which is being paid using a "generous, earmarked gift from the labour movement" - became controversial because of secrecy, contributing to the downfall of party leader Carole James.

New Democrat legislators waited almost a year before being officially informed about that arrangement - even though, according to dissident MLA Jenny Kwan, Ms. James knew about it much earlier.

Such "back room deals should have no place in today's politics," Ms. Kwan charged in a statement released last month to the media, adding the arrangements for the stipend were "not done in a transparent manner."

But Gerard Janssen, the chair of the New Democrats' oversight committee, has told Public Eye Mr. Sihota and the party's provincial secretary Jan O'Brien did advise senior officials about the $76,500 presidential pay arrangement in January 2010.

"Unfortunately, Jan just thought it was a discussion" rather than a meeting, explained Mr. Janssen - who is responsible for examining the party's financial records.

So the disclosure wasn't minuted "and then it was just forgotten for meeting after meeting."

Mr. Janssen said he didn't personally attend the meeting in question.

The former cabinet minister and caucus whip couldn't say whether that meeting was limited to the party's table officers or included members of its larger provincial executive.

New Democrat spokesperson Michael Roy refused to comment on this story.

Mr. Janssen also said Mr. Sihota has not submitted any receipts for reimbursement since being elected president in November 2009.

4 Comments

So who is paying the provincial secretary? I was told it was a different union. And James made a big deal of distancing the party from the unions! Like hell she did. If the staff is paid, fine but admit it up front rather than have the caucus find out, sometime later, a lot later, and the members, have they ever been officially told?

Let's face it, in Canada, this has become the way that politicians, bureaucrats, police, lawyers and now even the courts and judiciary operate.

Never put anything in writing so you can evade exposure and accountability.

Is anyone else concerned about the rapid trend in the Western World towards increasing loss of privacy for individual citizens, at the same time as governments are becoming more and more secretive?

Are the people so willing to swallow the pretense that increased security will protect them (from some unknown, unproven, possible threat) that they are willing to lead their lives as prisoners under constant scrutiny?

In BC today, a person can make a false allegation about someone anonymously to a government agency, and never face any penalty whatsoever, legal or otherwise. It's open season for those who wish to smear someone's reputation or otherwise do them harm.

Lovely world we're creating here.

O.K. how does this issue stack up against taxpayers money being used to pay legal costs of the defendants in the Basi/Virk trail so that the real BC Rail fiasco would never see the light of day? Do all the BC Liberal party insider work for free? Are they on leave from their jobs or do the companies they work for simply allow them to take time off with pay to work on party matters?

Surely no one is suggesting that the very ethical Moe did something underhand.

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