“…Cadieux singled out “Lisa Leslie,” who, let me confirm, is Sean Leslie’s wife. The Minister thought nothing of (painfully) pointing out Sean Leslie’s glaring conflict of interest (he is required to cover, WITH UNIMPEACHABLE IMPARTIALITY, the very government who provides his household with a healthy cheque every month). It is a moment that did not go unnoticed with many media colleagues–and NOT ONE wrote about it or pointed it out…”
No doubt, the Leslie family would happily say to the Minister, “You’re welcome. Glad to be of service.” For her work, Lisa Leslie is rewarded quite well. Certainly better than life-saving paramedics and school support workers who were able to gain modest increases in a new contract negotiated this week, after receiving 6% over the last five years. Because of low pay rates and irregular schedules, CUPE says the average support worker salary is $24,000.
The BC Liberal government pays Lisa Leslie 3½ times that amount and she has enjoyed increases of 26% in the last five years, not a bad amount considering the net-zero mandate that’s been in effect much of the time for government workers.
One may wonder why media spends no time comparing treatment of senior civil servants to treatment of unionized workers such as those in healthcare and education. The answer may be that some writers and broadcasters benefit from the unequal treatment. Leslie and Smart are not the only ones with a close relative who has been appointed to work for the BC Liberal government or its caucus.
I wonder how Sean Leslie’s boss at CKNW would explain how Lisa Leslie’s employment does not put her husband in conflict of interest that offends principles published by the Association of Electronic Journalists (RTDNA). Ian Koenigsfest, head of programming at CKNW, is also President of RTDNA. Here is a portion of the RTDNA’s Code of Ethics:
The Canadian Association of Journalists publishes Ethics Guidelines that includes:
- We generally do not accept payment for speaking to groups we report on or comment on.
- We do not report about subjects in which we have financial or other interests…
How would Leslie or Koenigsfest excuse themselves or their colleagues on these ethical matters?
Regular readers will recall the CBC Ombudsman upheld a complaint that Stephen Smart, CBC Legislative Reporter for Radio and Television in BC, was in conflict because he reported on the BC government while his wife worked as a press officer in the Premier’s office. In his report, Ombudsman Kirk LaPointe stated,
“…Whether a real or perceived conflict of interest, no amount of managing it can do more than mitigate the impact on an impartial fulfillment of duties.”
Essentially, CBC ignored LaPointe’s findings. Smart continues in his position and his wife serves as a Public Affairs Officer in Christy Clark’s government. No disclosure of the relationship is made on air.
This is the way media behaves in British Columbia. Apparent conflicts and ethical gaps are discussed only in the alternative media, never in corporate properties. Payments from groups affected by coverage flow without sanction to the “journalists” providing that coverage. Keith Baldrey recently called references to the RTDNA code of ethics “lame.”
Hollow are claims that British Columbia’s mainstream media pays attention to codes of conduct and commonly accepted principles of journalism.