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Van Dongen calls for conflict investigation into premier's activities in BC Rail privatization

Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen. - News file photo
Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen.
— image credit: News file photo

Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen has asked the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to investigate the  activities of Premier Christy Clark in relation to the privatization of BC Rail.

The focus of the requested investigation into Clark’s activities is the period between May 15, 2003, when the government announced publicly that BC Rail would be put up for sale, and Nov. 19, 2003, when the Cabinet met and approved CN as the successful bidder. Earlier events in 2003 and 2002 will also be relevant, said van Dongen in a press release.

At the time, Clark was the Minister of Education and Deputy Premier in the Gordon Campbell government.

Van Dongen said there are grounds to believe Clark has contravened the requirements of the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act, based primarily on Clark’s own public statements in 2003 and during her campaign for the BC Liberal leadership in 2010-2011.

He said there is more evidence based on his research into the records of Cabinet proceedings maintained by the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, and information he obtained as a result of BC Supreme Court orders earlier this year which gave him access to records and transcripts of the criminal proceedings against Dave Basi and Bob Virk.

Van Dongen said the Conflict of Interest Commissioner has extensive authority to conduct an inquiry, including the power to compel people including Clark to give evidence under oath and to produce documents and records.

"I am asking the commissioner to exercise his inquiry power so that the Legislature and the public can be told, on the basis of full and complete information, whether or not Ms. Clark did in fact contravene the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act,” he said.

“My personal investigation into the BC Rail file has been like assembling an enormous jigsaw puzzle.

"As more bits and pieces come to my attention, different parts of the puzzle are coming together. Basically, I am asking the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to carry out an inquiry which will help fill in this part of the puzzle.

"In my view, there is a very strong public interest in transparency and accountability in all matters relating to BC Rail. The facts around Ms. Clark’s activities relating to BC Rail are certainly a matter on which the public deserves answers.”

Van Dongen has detailed the basis for his opinion that Clark has contravened the conflict of interest statute in a 20-page brief sent to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner along with a binder of relevant documents.

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