A bit out of date but this item first published in January 2015 is worth repeating. It shows something about the quality of political reporting in BC.
January 2, an unidentified caller chatted with CKNW Legislative reporter and talkshow host Sean Leslie, the spouse of a BC Liberal Government Communications Director, appointed by Order in Council, who has been paid more than $250,000 total in the last three fiscal years.
It won’t surprise any regular reader that I believe the caller made valid points. Below is a graphic created with numbers from The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and B.C. Hydro. It supplements the caller’s arguments.
Perhaps British Columbia has a difficult economic environment that creates unavoidable burdens for taxpayers and consumers. The alternative is troubling. But, something that looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck may very well be an actual duck.
UPDATE to the item published January 3, 2015:
Les Leyne’s son works as a public affairs/government relations research analyst. A free In-Sights subscription to any reader who can identify which party employs Andrew Leyne.
Of course, the columnist’s son worked for the Liberal caucus, then the Ministry of Environment and now Hill+Knowlton where he is a government lobbyist, sometimes for a pharmaceutical client. Interestingly, the Vancouver Sun’s Rob Shaw and Lori Culbert reported a fired Health Ministry researcher was evaluating the province’s anti-smoking program but Leyne wrote that the Health Ministry firings were a mystery. That is no proof of conflict due to a family members’s interests but it raises a question about the appropriateness of disclosure.
We also know that Rebecca Scott, wife of Stephen Smart, another Press Gallery denizen, was employed by OIC appointment as a Public Affairs Officer. The CBC Ombudsman found that to be problematic.
To be fair, I know nothing of the quality of communications work performed for the Government by Ms. Leslie or Ms. Trotter (Tom Fletcher’s OIC appointed spouse). However, I see a pattern of the BC Liberal Party aligning itself financially to families of political journalists. This puts news people in positions of conflict, real or perceived. Lew, in comments below, talks about lucrative appointments “that can be rescinded at any time at the pleasure of the government.” Most families would be seriously distressed if six or seven thousand dollars of monthly income suddenly disappeared.
Some will argue that spousal income is distinct, that journalist Mr. X is not in conflict because the Government he covers pay cash to Mrs. X. However, when public administrators deal with ordinary citizens – whether for tax programs, subsidized housing, medical service premium assistance, social assistance, student loans, etc. – the determinant is always family income. Financial affairs of one spouse is deemed to be connected with the partner’s.
We should consider if a specific Liberal strategy is to use public funds to tame media members; I’ve been told that it is.
Here is a list of Press Gallery members, according to the provincial government directory, January 4, 2015
Chris Brinton, CTV / Press Gallery President
Tom Fletcher, Black Press / Press Gallery President
Keith Baldrey, Global BC
Howard Cooper, Global BC
Jeff Davies, CBC Radio
Kirk Duncan, A News
Wells Gaetz, A News
Justine Hunter, Globe & Mail
Linsey Kines, Times Colonist
Shachi Kurl, A News (She left the news operation (now CTV Vancouver Island) in May 2011)
Sean Leslie, CKNW Radio
Les Leyne, Times Colonist
Craig McInnes, Vancouver Sun
Dirk Meissner, Canadian Press
Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun
Belle Puri, CBC TV
John Richardson, Shaw TV
Heather Robinson, CBC TV
Sophie Rousseau, Radio Canada TV
Mike Smyth, Vancouver Province
Marc Trudeau, CBC TV
Kristina Verruyt, Shaw TV
Jonathan Villeneuve, Radio Canada TV