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Christy Clark denies conflict of interest with RCI position

B.C. Premier Christy Clark was on the defensive today over a story in the National Post that she failed to disclose a business relationship with a local arm of an investment company.
Premier says business relationship wasn't a conflict of interest 2:21

B.C. Premier Christy Clark was on the defensive today over a story in the National Post that she failed to disclose a business relationship with a local arm of an investment company.

Company documents show that in September 2007 she agreed to serve as chairwoman of RCI Capital Group's Pacific Gateway Education Inc. She had resigned as an MLA in 2005.

According to the B.C. Corporate Registry, Clark was still a company director in May of 2011, when the company was dissolved for inactivity, the same month she was re-elected as an MLA — something she never disclosed to the public.

Clark was involved in promoting the interests of the parent company RCI Capital Group on her Asian trade mission in November. The company is involved in several industries including forestry and is represented by former Conservative Cabinet minister Stockwell Day.

"I never did any work for them"

But Clark denies she was still connected with the company as late as 2011, saying she ended her affiliation with the company when she started working as a CKNW radio talk show host years earlier, and long before she became premier.

"I never did any work for them, never went to any meetings, never got paid," Clark said on Thursday after the story was published.

"It was a company that never got off the ground and my understanding is that they had wound it up in 2007."

Clark's story was corroborated by the RCI CEO Jack Park who confirmed that Clark was brought on board in 2007 to lead a new initiative for his company, but that after a couple of months it became obvious that it wasn't going anywhere.

He confirmed Christy Clark called him around the same time to say that she was going to work in the media and couldn't have any further involvement.

"She had informed us that she was moving onto another assignment and could no longer support that or participate in that project," said Park.

Issue is disclosure

Nevertheless, Clark says, given the paperwork confusion, she will ask the province's conflict of interest commissioner to make sure she did nothing wrong.

Rules for MLAs require disclosure of current business interests, but there is no requirement to provide information on activities prior to their running for office.

But NDP Leader Adrian Dix says the issue is still one of disclosure: the premier should have admitted to her previous connection to the company if she's promoting it.

"She became the premier and this relationship, she never disclosed, and I think most people would argue she should have," said Dix.  

"One has to ask the question 'why?' And what she was doing?"

With files from CBC's Stephen Smart

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