Christy Clark's transition advisor charged with conflict of interest

BY ETHAN BARON, THE PROVINCE MARCH 23, 2011 COMMENTS

The fox is in the B.C. henhouse: Premier Christy Clark’s new transition adviser chairs a company that does hundreds of millions of dollars of business with the provincial government.

Arch-conservative Gwyn Morgan heads the board of SNC-Lavalin, the Montreal-based firm that built the $1.9-billion Canada Line and will run it for more than 30 years, that has a $587-million contract to expand the Waneta Dam hydro-generating facility in the West Kootenay, and that maintains all B.C. Ferry terminals for a price the provincial ferry corporation won’t disclose.

Industry Canada describes B.C.’s transportation ministry, Canada Line and the ferry corporation as “key clients” of SNC-Lavalin. Adding to the unsavouriness of Morgan’s position with the Clark government is the fact that he donated $10,000 to her leadership campaign.

Clark’s selection of Morgan — the retired founding CEO of natural gas giant Encana — as the man to guide her into her new job says a great deal about her political plans.

In 2006, Opposition MPs on a Commons committee found Morgan “unsuitable” to serve as voluntary chief of a new patronage-watchdog office, because of comments he’d made about immigrants and multiculturalism.

The previous year, in a speech at B.C.’s Fraser Institute, Morgan had blamed immigration for violence in Toronto and Calgary. In a subsequent speech in Toronto, Morgan suggested multiculturalism was the cause of rioting in France and Australia, and warned Canadians to beware multiculturalism doesn’t become a divisive value.

In a September column in the Globe and Mail, Morgan attacked Canada’s public health care, arguing for private delivery of publicly funded care plus a two-tier system allowing Canadians to buy entirely private care. Those who would oppose his ideas were “monopoly-loving union leaders and their left-wing sycophants.” In another Globe column, he described unionized public-sector workers as “abusive” toward the citizenry, and insisted that unionized workers providing “important” public services should be forbidden from striking.

I wanted to ask Clark why she decided a rabid right-winger was the best pick to help her lead B.C. And I especially wanted to ask Clark how she could possibly justify bringing on an adviser who leads a company heavily dependent on B.C. government contracts. She didn’t call me back. Clearly, the premier doesn’t want to talk about Morgan.

Considering his contribution to her campaign, his company’s intensely close financial ties to her government, and his inflammatory political views, I’m not surprised.

I am, however, a bit surprised that Clark would so quickly demonstrate such a lack of accountability to British Columbians as to select an adviser who is obviously in a conflict of interest. If I were the chair of a corporation that was making a mint off B.C., there’s no place I’d rather be than by the premier’s side, steering her along.

ebaron@theprovince.com

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Comments

According to Ethan Brown at the Province:

"In 2006, Opposition MPs on a Commons committee found Morgan “unsuitable” to serve as voluntary chief of a new patronage-watchdog office, because of comments he’d made about immigrants and multiculturalism.

The previous year, in a speech at B.C.’s Fraser Institute, Morgan had blamed immigration for violence in Toronto and Calgary. In a subsequent speech in Toronto, Morgan suggested multiculturalism was the cause of rioting in France and Australia, and warned Canadians to beware multiculturalism doesn’t become a divisive value."

We are attempting to obtain the transcripts of the speeches Baron refers to. If, in fact, Morgan said that immigration causes violence, then, in my opinion, that would tend to stereotype immigrants and that in-itself would constitute racism plain and simple.

One commentator on Bill Tieleman's blog, who has examined Christy Clark's connections to BC Rail noted that Morgan had been rejected by a Commons committee for an appointment to a voluntary watch-dog committee because of his statements about immigration and multiculturalism. As the commentator stated:

"Ethan Baron, over at The Province, burns Christy Clark for her selection of the racist Gwyn Morgan as her transition adviser.

Racist ?

In 2006, Opposition MPs on a Commons committee found Morgan “unsuitable” to serve as voluntary chief of a new patronage-watchdog office, because of comments he’d made about immigrants and multiculturalism.

The previous year, in a speech at B.C.’s Fraser Institute, Morgan had blamed immigration for violence in Toronto and Calgary. In a subsequent speech in Toronto, Morgan suggested multiculturalism was the cause of rioting in France and Australia, and warned Canadians to beware multiculturalism doesn’t become a divisive value.

Yes. Racist !" (http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=35935973&postID=5594786805584426008)

With respect to racism, the critical issue is exactly what Morgan actually said. A careful examination of the transcripts of his statements are warranted because, at face value, there appears to be reason, in my opinion, if the Province is correct, to have grave concerns about Morgan above the apparent conflict of interest which Baron apparently exposes.

Of course, Morgan has not been charged by any police force for racism. But the real issue is whether or not, Morgan made statements that are likely to expose immigrants to discrimination. The purpose of this website is to examine charges of this nature and we all have a duty to see if the charges that have been made by Baron and others withstands careful scrutiny. Without bringing these charges to light, there is no way to determine the truth based on the evidence. Of course no one would want to make wild allegations that cannot be substantiated and we would not label Morgan's statements racist until the evidence is heard.

If what commentators are saying is true about Gwyn Morgan and multiculturalism, maybe someone should recommend he read this excellent article, "The multiculturalism the European right fears so much is a fiction – it never existed" here

http://www.stopracism.ca/content/multiculturalism-european-right-fears-s...

The far right in Canada has also picked up the same arguments against multiculturalism as made by the far right in other countries. Its what we heard for years from newspaper columnist Doug Collins formerly of the North Shore News and Ernst Zundel of Samisdat, to name a few.

Its time for the far right to realize that what they are against never existed in the first place. But careful consideration of an argument was never a strong point of the far right.