Clark draws fire for taking B.C. Liberal Party stipend above her salary

By The Canadian Press
April 27, 2016 - 2:22pm Updated: April 27, 2016 - 6:08pm

VICTORIA — Premier Christy Clark is defending her annual stipend of up to $50,000 from British Columbia’s Liberal party, on top of her $195,000 annual salary.

“It’s been publicly disclosed since 1993,” Clark told reporters Wednesday about a policy the Liberal party called a long-standing tradition. “I guess I would have happily disclosed it last year if you’d asked me.”

Clark was fending off attacks from NDP Leader John Horgan, who alleged she benefits from donations at high-priced Liberal fundraisers.

“Big money is staying in politics largely because the premier’s benefiting from it,” he said.

“We tabled legislation just two weeks ago and the Liberals voted against it. We want union and corporate donations to be gone,” Horgan said. “Because of her fundraising activities the Liberals have money to top up her salary, and that’s wrong.”

Quebec’s Liberal party had a similar policy but did away with it, he said.

Clark said the NDP also raises money with “exclusive soirees and the B.C. Liberals raise money as well.

“We all do that under the rules in the province. We’ve done it for a long time in British Columbia,” she said.

“The issue for us is to make sure that we always separate our public duties from any sources of funding for our political party.”

The Liberal party and an official in Clark’s office said former premier Gordon Campbell received a $90,000 stipend at one point.

Clark declares her premier’s allowance on her annual public disclosure documents, but the amounts are not specified.

She has said she attends exclusive fundraising events organized by the Liberal party, but does not know how much people pay to attend.

B.C.’s conflict-of-interest commissioner is reviewing separate complaints from New Democrat David Eby and Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher claiming the fundraising events that Clark attends violate policies that prohibit the acceptance of gifts.

Paul Fraser later confirmed in a letter to Conacher that he would investigate both complaints and issue one opinion on the matter.

Eby amended his complaint on Wednesday in a letter to Fraser, saying the allowances Clark receives from the Liberal party are a direct financial benefit.

“Simply because the donation money from these private dinners briefly visits the B.C. Liberal Party before ending up in Ms. Clark’s pocket does not, for the purposes of the act, eliminate the direct personal, financial benefit she experiences from these large donations,” the letter said.

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