British Columbia

B.C. Premier Christy Clark no longer receiving $50K stipend from party

Christy Clark says she will instead ask the B.C. Liberal Party to reimburse her for individual expenses.

'It's become a real distraction,' admitted Clark, acknowledging growing criticism of the arrangement

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, seen here in a November 2016 press conference, announced she will no longer receive a $50,000 stipend from the B.C. Liberal Party. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)

British Columbia's premier says she is no longer receiving a $50,000 annual stipend from her political party.

Christy Clark says she will instead ask the B.C. Liberal Party to reimburse her for individual expenses.

She says different parties do things differently and she has decided her party should move to a new system.

"It's always been a standard part of the process in BC, but it's become a real distraction," said Clark at a media availability on Friday night.

"What I've asked the party is to get rid of it, and let's do what I think all parties should do ... which is ask instead for reimbursed expenses."

The Liberals confirmed last spring that Clark is paid up to $50,000 per year for party work on top of her $195,000 salary.

The stipend formed part of two conflict of interest complaints filed against Clark last year by an opposition member of the legislature and a citizen advocacy group.

The province's conflict of interest commissioner later cleared the premier of wrongdoing, saying the money was a political benefit, not a personal one.

Opposition NDP Leader John Horgan said earlier this week that he plans to introduce a bill in the legislature next month that would ban all corporate and union donations to the province's political parties.

"We need to take big money out of politics," he said.

Horgan has been critical of the Liberal's fundraising, and says that just 185 donors account for half of the $12.3 million raised by the party last year.

Clark said Friday that there are two ways parties can get political money, either from private citizens or from taxpayers.

"There are really only two models," she said. "Neither of them are perfect, but I would argue that taxpayers would rather see their money going into (non-profit organizations), rather see it go into health care, rather see it go into special needs teachers in classrooms."

With files from CBC News