Friday, May 20, 2016
Rafe: Of course Christy Clark is guilty of conflict of interest…so is Commissioner Fraser
The term “conflict of interest” poses difficulties for many people. That’s because lawyers make money by confusing simple things. If one has a public duty and private interest in the same area as that public duty, it’s a conflict, plain and simple. It does not mean that this person is a crook or making illegal profits, although they’re not excused if they do, just that they mustn’t be in a position where they can do so. There is no presumption of innocence involved – just conflicting interests.
Martyn Brown, former aide to both Premiers Christy Clark and Campbell, recently stated:
The Members Conflict of Interest Act seems easy to understand:
2 (2) defines “apparent” conflict of interest, but since the greater includes the lesser, it’s irrelevant in my view.
Premier Clark raises large sums for the direct benefit of herself and her government from those who thrive on benefits from the government she leads. What is even remotely confusing about that? Her actions are clearly covered by 2(1)
Is that hard to grasp?
Apparently it is for Conflicts Commissioner Paul Fraser who said, “I am unable to conclude that the donations received by the Liberal Party in the circumstances described amount to a ‘private interest’ for the premier.”
Let me get this straight. The party and the premier need money so they can get elected and Clark can get paid $195,000 per year and perks. She goes to fundraisers, using her considerable ability to raise money from people who want favours in exchange. The Liberal Party, including the generous donors that benefit so hugely, pay Ms. Clark an extra $50,000 per year for her services.
According to Mr. Fraser, Clark is not acting as premier when she attracts all those wealthy patrons with open wallets, but as a politician!
Really! If all the Liberal Party needed was a politician, they could use Rich Coleman. They don’t use Coleman because, even if he covered himself with molasses, he couldn’t draw flies, let alone wealthy ones.
I remember you when you were smart, Paul. But I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, since you don’t think that the fact of your son’s long and close friendship with Clark and that he is a politically appointed Deputy-Minister in her government places you in a conflict of interest! Hell, Paul, you’re probably right. I mean, who would ever dream that a lawyer making $269,000 a year from a legislature made up largely of Liberals would consider it in his interest to keep those Liberals kindly disposed towards him?
This entire area of the behaviour of our “betters” reeks with hypocrisy. You will remember the story of lawyer David Johnston, in a decision that defied belief, rescued Brian Mulroney from questions on his taking a bag full of money from a crook in a New York hotel room in the middle of the night and, then, by one of those amazing coincidences Canadian politics are known for, was appointed Governor General of Canada by the Stephen Harper – who had put him in charge of the Mulroney investigation and was relieved as hell that Mulroney couldn’t blab.
That story brought forth a response to criticism of Johnston, from Andrew Coyne in MacLean’s, who said:
For all this clear and severe criticism, Coyne rejected any suggestion that there was a quid pro quo, to clear Lyin’ Brian and become G-G. And maybe there wasn’t but, goddammit, it looked awful.
Now yesterday Coyne had this to say about Clark:
Couldn’t have said it better myself. My only question is, how come it applies to Christy Clark but didn’t apply to Johnston?
A cynic might suspect that while Coyne doesn’t give a fiddler’s fart if Christy Clark and her supporters don’t like him, he cringes at the thought that the eastern Canadian establishment, upon whom he so clearly depends, might think badly of him and that he might lose his role as the national media suck.
There is a better test for these issues shorn of legalese crap – does it pass the “Smell Test”? What would the folks in the pub say?
An imprecise test to be sure but anyone with half a brain and no conflict of interest themselves would say that both the Johnston/Harper/Mulroney and Christy Clark cases stink to highest heaven and that Andrew Coyne and Paul Fraser ought to repair to the nearest pub and put their conclusions to the smell test.