True intermediary needs impartiality, Editorial Peace Arch News, April 11, 2012
“Wherever one stands on the current teachers’ dispute, it must be recognized that it is crucial for all sides that the mediator appointed should be considered by all parties to be independent and impartial at the outset.
“Unfortunately for upcoming negotiations – already a potential minefield – there are serious flaws in the optics of the B.C. government’s appointment of Charles Jago as mediator, at an estimated cost to taxpayers of $2,000 per day .
“…Jago has been faulted by the BC Teachers Federation as a former contributor to the BC Liberals’ war chest – to the tune of $500 in 2007 and the same again in 2010.
“And now comes the admission from Abbott that Jago both saw – and suggested changes to – Bill 22 before it became law, even before the BCTF had a chance to submit its own suggestions for mediator.
“It is pointless to argue, as Abbott has done, that the sections Jago viewed of the draft bill pertained only to his terms of reference and his mandate. That he contributed to any of it clearly compromises the process – in the same way as discussion of evidence of a criminal case among jurors, however innocuous, is deemed sufficient cause to declare a mistrial…”
BC Liberals have featured Charles Jago’s former role as President of the University of Northern British Columbia but media paid scant attention to his years of service as a director of Liberal backer Canfor Pulp. Dr. Jago is Chair of Canfor Pulp Products Inc. and he is also Chair of Sinclair Group Forest Products Ltd., another Liberal donor.
Canfor Pulp has donated $26,975 to the BC Liberal Party since 2007 and Sinclair Group another $2,500. Jago’s close associate at Canfor Pulp, Chair Emeritus Peter Bentley, has donated thousands more to the BC Liberals as have fellow directors Ron Clliff and William Stinson.
Additionally, Jago served in a management capacity with Partnerships BC, the Liberal created agency to promote public private partnerships.
Jago clearly lacks understanding of qualifications needed to serve as a mediator. One of the most important qualities is the ability to maintain and demonstrate neutrality toward all parties. Being an individual donor and Board Chair of two companies donating to the BC Liberals demonstrates that Jago is not neutral in the dispute he is asked to mediate. If he were an honourable man, he would withdraw without delay.