Christy Clark government is all about “friends first”

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VANCOUVER – Christy Clark’s penchant for political patronage payoffs was on full display Monday as several high-profile B.C. Liberals got plum jobs on the taxpayers’ dime, say New Democrats.

“During the election the premier toured in a bus that said ‘debt free B.C.’ while the province posted a record high debt. Now we know what she was actually talking about was paying off political debts to her friends, ” said New Democrat finance critic Mike Farnworth. “The taxpayer-funded gift to her pal Gordon Wilson really takes the cake.

“Right after the election Premier Clark gave fat raises to top political staffers, then we saw big bonuses for senior bureaucrats and B.C. Ferries executives,” added Farnworth. “Then she appointed a ream of failed Liberal candidates to taxpayer-funded positions throughout government. The gravy train just kept on rolling this week.”

“News that the premier appointed the former MLA from Kelowna-Westside to a plum post for up to $170,000 was par for the course. We’ve come to expect that kind of behaviour from this government,” said New Democrat international trade critic Bruce Ralston. “But that announcement was just hiding a much bigger problem.

“Former Liberal MLA and Premier Clark’s parliamentary secretary John Les, failed Burnaby-Lougheed Liberal candidate Ken Kramer, and Clark’s 11th hour election endorser Gordon Wilson were all given taxpayer-funded positions. Meanwhile, the premier continues to neglect skills training for the LNG industry, putting development at risk.”

Farnworth and Ralston noted the disconnect between Wilson’s patronage appointment and his reasons for rejoining the Liberal party.

“Mr. Wilson said he embraced Clark’s message of fiscal restraint while ignoring the premier’s record-breaking provincial debt,” said Ralston.

Added Farnworth, “Now, Mr. Wilson has decided to accept a costly patronage appointment funded by scarce tax dollars that are sorely needed for programs that are far more critical to the development of the LNG sector in B.C., like skills training. International firms have made it clear that the unresolved skills labour shortage in B.C. is seen as a risk to investing in potential B.C.-based LNG projects.”