British Columbia

6 B.C. Liberal Party donors among 16 appointed to the Order of B.C.

Integrity B.C. says of the 16 people honoured with the distinction on Tuesday, six donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the B.C. Liberal Party, as well as other political parties.

Integrity B.C. says awarding donors makes citizens mistrustful of appointment process and government

From top left to right: David Sidoo, Frank Giustra, Dr. Allen Eaves, Dr. Peter K. K. Wong, Kim Baird, Pauline Rafferty. (Order of B.C./Royal Roads University)

A non-partisan political watchdog group in B.C. is raising concerns after a handful of B.C. Liberal Party donors were recently appointed to the Order of B.C.

Integrity B.C. says of the 16 people honoured with the distinction on Tuesday, six donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the B.C. Liberal Party, as well as other political parties.

"This should be one of the highest awards in the province ... and unfortunately when you see people who are donating more than $100,000 to the B.C. Liberals in some cases it draws that into question," said Integrity B.C. executive director Dermod Travis.

"The government should have been cautious of how it went awarding these Orders of B.C. to ensure the public wouldn't have the type of cynicism that it's managed to have over past awards where you've seen the same pattern."

According to Travis, the six donors were:

  • David Sidoo, former CFL football player and investment banker: $158,500 to the B.C. Liberals and $3,000 to the NDP.
  • Frank Giustra: $81,500 in individual donations and a further $138,800 in corporate donations though his companies Lionsgate Entertainment and Thunderbird Films .
  • Dr. Peter K. K. Wong, an East Vancouver physician and West Point Grey Academy board director: $53,350.
  • Dr. Allen Eaves, owner of "the largest biotechnology company in Canada": $7,220 to the B.C. Liberals and $1,000 to the B.C. Conservative Party.
  • Kim Baird, former elected chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation: $4,500.
  • Pauline Rafferty, former Royal B.C. Museum CEO: $385.

Travis said the same criticism cannot be said of the Order of Canada, which he says has a clearer protocol and process for how the award is bestowed to ensure it's not tainted by political partisanship.

"It's unfortunate for these individuals, many of whom may be worthy of the award, but the way the government has gone about doing this, it leaves the public open to that cynicism."

No ban on donors

There is no rule banning political donors from being nominated or selected for the Order of B.C.

In the government news release Pauline Rafferty is described as a "leading Canadian executive in the cultural sector who transformed the Royal B.C. Museum into a premier museum."

Kim Baird has been honoured for her work negotiating and implementing "the first modern treaty in the B.C. Treaty Negotiation Process," it also noted.

Travis pointed out that when the provincial government hands out the award to people like real estate developer Bob Rennie, who was appointed to the Order of B.C. in 2014, citizens come to see the order as a way to reward supporters.

According to the Order of B.C. website, "OBC honourees are selected from hundreds of nominations submitted by people across the province and around the world."

"Appointments to the Order are made by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council (Cabinet), on the recommendation of the advisory council."

The advisory council consists of five provincial officials, including the Chief Justice of B.C. and the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, and two past recipients of the order. 

"The order of British Columbia recognizes people who have served with the greatest distinction and excelled in any field of endeavour benefiting the people of British Columbia and elsewhere," said British Columbia's chief of protocol Lucy Lobmeier.

"The advisory council is made up of very nonpolitical people and their deliberations are based on the merit of each nominee."

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