British Columbia

No conflict in Christy Clark Liberal party payment says former party strategist

The campaign manager for former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell says there is no impropriety in Christy Clark getting a $50,000 per year stipend from the B.C. Liberals.

'The fundamental issue here is: Should people who give more money get more access?' says Greg Lyle

B.C. Premier Christy Clark receives $50,000 per year from the B.C. Liberal Party in addition to her almost $200,000 per year premier's salary. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The campaign manager for former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell says there is no impropriety in current Premier Christy Clark getting a $50,000 per year stipend from the British Columbia Liberal Party.

"It's actually quite common although the amounts vary and the purposes vary," said Greg Lyle. "For instance, a lot of leaders receive money to offset the cost of clothing. Often they'll receive some sort of payment to deal with car expenses or meal expenses or accommodation in cities where they don't live."

On Wednesday the B.C. NDP  filed a complaint with the province's conflict of interest commissioner over the annual payment, which Clark collects in addition to the $195,000 per year premier's salary.

The allowance is raised through political contributions including donations that come from private meetings with Clark.

NDP MLA David Eby delivers complaint against Premier Christy Clark to the Office of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner. (Richard Zussman/CBC)

NDP MLA David Eby alleges the premier is essentially using her office for personal financial gain, especially in light of recent revelations the B.C. Liberal party has been charging people $10,000 each to attend exclusive dinners with Clark.

"This is actually $300,000 the premier has received from the party since she was elected as premier," said Eby. "The concern is that there is great incentive for the premier to continue these high value fund raisers with donors with great business interests in her decisions as premier because she receives a direct financial benefit."

Lyle doesn't see it that way. 

Greg Lyle was the campaign manager for former B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell. (Innovative Research Group)

"He's talked about it as essentially being a commission, and she might as well just receive a bag of cash when she turns up at an event," said Lyle. 

"The fundamental issue here is: Should people who give more money get more access? That's a different thing than doing favours for money which is straight up bribery, and a criminal code offence."

"She is is not getting commissions clearly. So the idea that there is some sort of personal benefit to Christy Clark to go out and raise money I don't think is going to go far."

Lyle, who is now the president of Innovative Research Group, says he wasn't aware of Gordon Campbell receiving similar payments from the B.C. Liberal party during the ten years he was premier.

With files from The Early Edition

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