Earlier today, we broke the news that Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Minister Pat Bell had invited legislators on both sides of the aisle to an event celebrating the re-opening of BC Place. That freebie will see attendees take in a BC Lions game while enjoying the use of the stadium's Edgewater Lounge. In an interview with The Vancouver Courier's Bob Mackin, New Democrat caucus chair Shane Simpson said opposition politicians won't be taking up Mr. Bell on his offer because "we didn't really think it was that appropriate for 85 MLAs to get an invitation for free tickets and things." But, speaking with Public Eye, the minister pointed out the tickets were provided to the government at no cost to taxpayers because of the contractual relationship BC Pavilion Corp. - which owns the stadium - has with the BC Lions.
"I think as an elected official, someone who represents anywhere from 25,000 to 75,000, it would be appropriate for the NDP to join everyone in attending the festivities. It's a big deal. It was a big investment on the part of the province of British Columbia. And I think elected officials, whether they're government or opposition, should be part of that celebration," he said.
Indeed, Mr. Bell said he found it "disappointing" the New Democrats have turned down his invitation "because it was meant as a good gesture and they seem to want to try to play it to political advantage."
"They've tried to get it to every media outlet in the province. They've gone to every media outlet and every media outlet has kind of said, 'Hold it here. Seems like a reasonable thing for the minister to do to offer you tickets to attend what is a provincial celebration.' So there's been no uptick."
But, he added, "I've had a number of (opposition MLAs) come up to me quietly and said to me, 'Gee, can I still get a hold of those tickets.'"