B.C. conflict czar cites conflict in Premier Clark probe
B.C.'s conflict of interest commissioner has stepped away from conducting a possible investigation into Premier Christy Clark's alleged actions around the sale of BC Rail, saying he too may be considered in a conflict.
Paul Fraser — citing unique family connections — issued a statement Tuesday saying Northwest Territories conflict commissioner Gerald Gerrand will now handle a request by Independent B.C. MLA John van Dongen to investigate allegations the former Liberal is making against Clark.
Last week, van Dongen asked Fraser to conduct a conflict probe focusing on Clark, but when he found out a day later Fraser has a son who works for the Liberal government, he asked Fraser to step aside.
Fraser's son, John Paul Fraser, is an assistant-deputy minister within the B.C. government and is a personal friend of the premier's.
Fraser's statement said he considered van Dongen's request over the weekend and decided that due to his unique family connections, he should hand over the investigation request to Gerrand, who served as Saskatchewan's conflict commissioner from 2000 to 2010.
"I have concluded that given the very unique circumstances here — circumstances in which there is a familial connection to a part of the history in which a conflict appears to be alleged, combined with the acute political controversy that the BC Rail file has occasioned in this province — it is unfair for me to ask the members of the legislative assembly or the public to bear the uncertain burden of my continued involvement in Mr. van Dongen's request," said the statement.
The two-page statement said Fraser's only further involvement in the matter will be to make sure Gerrand has the resources and people available to conduct his duties independently and file his report to the speaker of the B.C. legislature.
Last week, van Dongen filed an official request with Fraser's office to conduct an investigation to determine if Clark was in a conflict of interest nine years ago when the Liberal government sold the Crown-owned B.C. Rail.