Published in 24 Hours Vancouver | April 2, 2014 | Circulation: 280,000+
B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s transit policies and push for a referendum are being questioned after revelations she worked directly on a contract for TransLink when she was briefly partnered in her ex-husband’s lobby firm before returning to politics.
Burrard Communications owner Mark Marissen told 24 hours that his ex-wife’s role for TransLink was only a few Evergreen Line community meetings — not lobbying.
But Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch said a perceived conflict exists.
“She should have been prohibited from dealing with the TransLink issue and stayed away from dealing with that,” he said.
Marissen confirmed Clark was “listed as a partner in Burrard” during a brief 2006 contract with TransLink, but said her role was unpaid.
“It was community engagement,” he told 24 hours. “It was a very small project, maybe for a couple months.”
Although she might have met some municipal politicians through that work, she had no contact with elected provincial or federal officials, Marissen said.
“She never did,” he said. “If she had we would have registered her (as a lobbyist).”
But two people previously employed as federally registered TransLink lobbyists for Burrard have close ties to Clark — Forrest Parlee was her executive assistant until she quit politics, and after her re-election, John Fraser became her assistant deputy minister for strategic planning and public engagement.
MLAs are not legally required to report activities prior to their time in office. But with numerous loopholes in lobbyist registry laws, Conacher said, the public expects a much higher ethical standard.
Voters expect politicians to step aside if something appears to be a conflict is to prevent that situation from even occurring, “to ensure you’re not furthering the private interest of anyone.”