BC Conservative leader John Cummins has accused the provincial government of doing more to help political insiders than the public after it appointed seven of Premier Christy Clark's supporters to public sector boards. But a spokesperson for the premier has defended those appointments, saying all of the recipients were qualified for those jobs. Public Eye exclusively uncovered those appointments, which were quietly posted online by the government earlier this month. Specifically:
* Sheila Orr, who served as the MLA for Victoria-Hillside between 2001 and 2005, has been appointed to the Knowledge Network Corp.'s board until July 31, 2013. She was one of 14 former legislators to endorse Ms. Clark's leadership bid, which her husband contributed $1,000 toward;
* Terry Segarty, who served as the Socred Credit MLA for Kootenay East between 1979 and 1986, has been appointed to the Royal British Columbia Museum Corp.'s board until July 31, 2014. He was a riding organizer for Ms. Clark's leadership campaign. The premier also invited Mr. Segarty to attend her swearing-in ceremony.
* Doug Eastwood, a barrister for the ministry of attorney general, has been appointed to the Justice Institute of British Columbia's board until July 31, 2014. He was the volunteer chair for Ms. Clark's leadership campaign. The premier also invited Mr. Eastwood to attend her swearing-in ceremony;
* Macquarie Private Wealth Inc. branch manager Russ Lazaruk has been named to Camosun College's board until July 31, 2013. He was the South Island regional lead for Ms. Clark leadership campaign;
* Fort Nelson lawyer Nathan Bauder has been appointed to the Passenger Transportation Board until July 31, 2014. He contributed $3,000 to Ms. Clark's leadership campaign via Nathan R Bauder Law Corp. and was one of its riding organizers. Mr. Bauder has also been designated the board's chair;
* Linman Investments Ltd. president Lynne Kennedy, who served four terms as a city councillor in Vancouver, has been appointed to the Royal British Columbia Museum's board until July 31, 2014. She volunteered on Ms. Clark's leadership campaign;
* Private Career Training Institutions Agency chief executive officer Karin Kirkpatrick has been appointed to the Judicial Council of the Provincial Court of British Columbia for a term of three years. She contributed $500 to Ms. Clark's leadership campaign and was one of its volunteers. The premier also invited Ms. Kirkpatrick to attend her swearing-in ceremony.
Asked about those appointments, a spokesperson for the premier said, "It's a rather small percentage of overall appointments" and, in any case, they're all "well-qualified."
Moreover, Mr. Bauder - who was named to the mental health review board and the property assessment review panel when Gordon Campbell was still premier - said doesn't think his work for Clark had anything to do with him being named to the Passenger Transportation Board.
"It's just keeping in line with me being community-minded and serving on boards," he explained.
That comment was echoed by Camosun College board appointee Mr. Lazaruk who said, "I've got a lot of board experience. I'm a director of a global investment bank. I like to think I got it on my merits."
Indeed, when asked whether he thought politics influence his appointment, Mr. Eastwood responded, "The real question is whether or not I'm qualified to take on this position at the Justice Institute."
Noting his day job with the ministry of attorney general involves seizing millions of dollars in assets of crime under the Civil Forfeiture Act, as well as acting for the corrections branch and paramedics in major litigation, Mr. Eastwood stated, "I'm very familiar the types of services (the institute) delivers there."
"And I would note my appointment comes with only a very modest honorarium," he said, adding its less than he received while serving on a public sector board when the New Democrats were in power.
Nevertheless, Mr. Cummins said the appointments are an example of how "the only people that are getting ahead under this Clark government are cronies, insiders and lobbyists. The taxpayer sure as Hell isn't."
"These people may just be fine," he conceded. "But the fact is there could be somebody better. And it would appear, when you go down the list, that the common qualification was they supported Christy on her leadership bid."
Ms. Kirpatrick, Ms. Kennedy and Mr. Segarty didn't respond to calls from Public Eye.