It has been 140 years since British Columbia joined the Canadian Confederation …. ready, able and supposedly willing to govern itself properly, fairly and according to rule.
Or maybe not.
Far too often, BC still acts like the Wild West, where election laws are seriously violated, but offenders keep their seats; where politicians lie, deceive and after being forced to resign in disgrace, are rewarded with awards an lucrative appointments; and, where major rules are violated in handing out contracts … and when exposed by the media… the contract is rescinded, but no one reigns and not a single head rolls.
Take the case of Stewart Muir.
Muir may be a brilliant administrator and a wonderful person, but politically his biggest claim to fame is that he is married to the acting premier Christy Clark’s deputy minister in charge of “priority” files, Athana Mentzelopoulos. And Christy and Anna are such close personal friends that Mentzopoulos was bridesmaid at Clark’s wedding. That’s tight.
So how dumb, inefficient, and downright ludicrous can the BC system of governance be that the deputy minister’s husband, Stewart Muir, is handed a $162,000 contract by the government-appointed Vancouver Island Health Authority WITHOUT the job being posted, no tenders being called or anyone else even given a chance to apply.
The job: Vice President of Communications …. a posting that the VIHA’s own rules clearly require a more formal process than just handing the bounty of bucks out the porthole of BC’s ship of state.
Did they think no one would notice? Or know that, despite different last names, Mentzelopoulos and Muir are married? Or that there are VIHA rules in place calling for contract tendering, except in highly unusual or urgent situations?
And when the Victoria Times Colonist fired a broadside at the VIHA by revealing the legal violation, the President of the VIHA, adding insult to the injury of the public purse, reportedly said they needed a new VP of Communications URGENTLY … this, after the job had been vacant for almost 8 months.
Of course, when the news hit the fan, the contract was withdrawn (hopefully without one of those two or three-year severance clauses!
But the stench lingers on … and so do the questions.
How did Muir learn of the post being available? Why was he, above anyone else, offered the contract? Why were normal procedures ignored? Why didn’t anyone in the BC government head this off? (Clark says she know nothing, saw nothing, was aware of nothing. But surely her close deputy minister Anna knew something or should have. )
It’s too easy to say they made a mistake; and they corrected it after getting exposed.
If it’s really been 140 years since BC entered Confederation … surely our system of governance should be better developed … and more responsible than just cancelling a contract when caught handing one out ot a politically-connected individual without so much as asking for bids on the job.
Heads should roll.