July 17, 2017 7:57 pm

BC Liberals file complaint alleging NDP will use public funds for partisan purposes

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Green party leader Andrew Weaver shake hands after signing an agreement on creating a stable minority government during a press conference in the Hall of Honour at Legislature in Victoria on May 30, 2017.


A new government won’t be sworn in until Tuesday, but the BC Liberals are already alleging the New Democrats plan to inappropriately use public money for partisan purposes.

Vancouver-Quilchena MLA and outgoing Attorney General Andrew Wilkinson has filed a formal complaint with B.C.’s comptroller general Carl Fisher over the NDP’s planned “Confidence and Supply Agreement Secretariat.”

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That office, charged with overseeing the power-sharing deal between the NDP and Green parties, is to be headed up by Donna Sanford and housed in the premier’s office.

In a letter written Monday, Wilkinson asked Fisher for his opinion on whether putting the secretariat in the premier’s office would constitute a misuse of public funds.

The letter points to public-service policies that forbid employees from engaging in political activities during working hours or from using government resources to support these activities.

“The intended role of the so-called secretariat facilitates the political needs of the BC NDP caucus in the Legislative Assembly,” reads the letter.

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It goes on to suggest the secretariat should be funded by the NDP’s caucus office.

“It appears to be wholly inappropriate as a component of the office of British Columbia’s first minister and chief officer of the executive branch and inappropriate as a paid position for any member of the public service.”

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Outgoing Minister of Forests Lands and Natural Resources John Rustad said the NDP’s plan will put taxpayers on the hook for what he called a partisan political activity.

“It’s clear in my mind that you have two political parties that are trying to work together, and I do not believe that there should be government funding to support that relationship. I think that’s a misuse of government funds.”

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In a statement, the NDP called the proposed secretariat “a small team” that will support the policy priorities in the NDP-Green deal.

“This team will help deliver stable government that works for people, and we will follow any advice from the comptroller general to ensure the activities of the office fall within acceptable practices,” it said.

The NDP will be sworn in on Tuesday to form a minority government with the backing of the BC Greens’ three MLAs.

The parties have 44 seats combined, just enough to out vote the BC Liberals’ 43.

-With files from the Canadian Press

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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