The Province

Weaver leaps to Clark’s defence on pay raise

Michael Smyth


The opposition benches were in full mouth-foaming fury over Premier Christy Clark’s $50,000 salary “top-up” from the governing Liberals, but not all opposition members were in agreement.

Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green party, listened to the angry attacks from the NDP and shook his head in disgust.

“I couldn’t believe the levels of vitriol and hatred that were hurled,” Weaver told me. “It was unfair. It was personal. It was not worthy of the legislatur­e.”

Weaver was especially appalled at NDP pit bull David Eby, who accused the Liberals of “laundering” their payments to Clark. Eby said the $50,000 paid to Clark — on top of her $195,000-a-year salary as premier — amounts to a “commission” on the Liberals’ lavish donations from big business.

The attack was “quite repugnant,” said Weaver, who has no problems with Clark pocketing the extra Liberal loot.

“There are nearly 3,000 people in the B.C. public sector who get paid more than the premier,” Weaver said. “That’s ridiculous. The premier is underpaid.”

Public employees making more than Clark include university presidents, the heads of Crown corporatio­ns, the Vancouver police chief and many specialist surgeons, Weaver said. Then you have the big crossborde­r energy traders employed by B.C. Hydro’s Powerex subsidiary, who bag $1 million or more a year.

“I’m not concerned about the premier accepting a stipend from the Liberal Party — she’s a single mom,” said Weaver, adding he detects gender bias in the NDP’s attacks.

“If she was not a woman, do you think people would be going after her the way they are? Gordon Campbell accepted a stipend from the Liberals for years and no one said a word.”

Eby, the NDP critic, points out the amounts paid to Campbell were never disclosed.

It’s only now that the public is discoverin­g how much Clark is paid by the governing party.

“People are outraged by this,” Eby told me Monday. “They find it unbelievab­le that political donations to the Liberal Party go, in part, as a personal financial benefit to the premier.”

As for Clark being underpaid, Eby expressed astonishme­nt at the suggestion.

“The average family wage in Metro Vancouver is $70,000,” he said. “With her top-up, the premier earns more than three times that.”

What about the hundreds of other civil servants making even more than Clark? Is that fair?

“You’re not supposed to get rich being premier, but she’s getting pretty close to it,” Eby said.

The fierce NDP critic, whose conflict-of-interest complaint against Clark was dismissed last week, said he does not take back the tough language he’s employed, Weaver’s disgust notwithsta­nding.

“My only regret is that we have such a broken system of laws that allows this reprehensi­ble activity to take place,” Eby said. “I wish Andrew Weaver would speak up more about that.”

Weaver thinks the New Democrats are a bunch of hypocrites for lambasting Clark’s $10,000 private dinners with rich Liberal donors while NDP leader John Horgan holds lucrative fundraiser­s of his own.

“Here you have the NDP getting upset while Mr. Horgan jets off to Toronto for $5,000-a-plate breakfasts,” Weaver said. “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.”

Or your bacon-and-eggs, it appears. But that won’t silence Eby and the New Democrats, who are probably pleased to see their rival Weaver on the premier’s side in this one.

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