Oh, my! A scandal?

By David F. Rooney

A leaked preliminary report from the Auditor General’s office that allegedly claims New Democratic MLAs agreed to siphon $200 a month from their constituency office funds into a secret fund has been denied by the party and its elected MLAs.

The money allegedly comes from public funds every MLA receives to help pay for their constituency office operations. It is not to be used for partisan political purposes.

This alleged scandal is supposedly outlined in preliminary report, however, the allegations never made it into the Auditor General’s own report.

BC Liberal candidate Doug Clovechok says he heard about it from Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett who allegedly heard about it from an un-named journalist. Bennett? Yeah, he’s the guy who likes to use scatological terms to describe the NDP. But Doug hasn’t seen a copy of the document and can’t acquire one, either. So it’s difficult to judge the veracity of the BC Liberals’ claims, especially since they are on the hook for a scandal of their own… one that is available on paper.

So is it real or is it a case of political smoke and mirrors?

It’s hard to say but what is true is this: Preliminary reports of any kind sometimes contain inaccurate or misleading bits of information that don’t stand up to a second look and therefore are jerked from final reports. That could explain why there is no mention of this ‘scandal’ in the official report.

Regardless, MLA Norm Macdonald felt compelled to issue a formal statement with regard to this:

Yesterday, I received a request from a local journalist to comment on allegations that had been made by the local BC Liberal candidate and his colleague, the BC Liberal MLA from Kootenay East.  These allegations relate to the use of Columbia River – Revelstoke constituency funds and contained statements that were completely and categorically false.

Unfortunately, we have come to expect this kind of politics at the wider provincial level.  But here in the Kootenays, we pride ourselves in ensuring that we make political decisions based on mutual respect and a reasoned debate of ideas.

When Kootenay political figures resort to personal attacks and untruths in an attempt to improve their own political fortunes, it degrades us all.

Today, we received a scathing report on the BC Liberal Ethnic Outreach scandal where the premier’s own deputy minister outlined a lengthy record of misuse of government resources.  This scandal has already resulted in the resignation of the premier’s deputy chief of Staff and the minister of multiculturalism.

These are facts.

But in an effort to distract people in this area from those facts, the BC Liberals have attempted to create the belief that there is another scandal.

I have been accused of transferring money from my constituency office to the party.  And the claim has been made that the Auditor General revealed this practice in an Auditor General’s report.  Not one word of these accusations is true and both Mr. Clovechok and Mr. Bennett know it.

We are about to head into a local election campaign that I had hoped would be an opportunity for voters to discuss their hopes for their province.  And I had hoped that all the candidates in this constituency would choose to focus on presenting their own vision for the province.

I can do nothing about the behavior of my Liberal opponent, but I can assure voters that my campaign will be about giving voters a positive and practical choice in the next election.

When we ask for the support of the electorate, that is the very least we can do.

Well, it certainly looks as though the upcoming provincial election campaign is already heating up.