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Update: April 21 The inappropriate partisan news release has been removed from the government website.

April 20, 2012

Liberal Party Organizing out of Premier's Office

Premier Clark and her senior staff appear to be using public resources for blatantly partisan activities.

In an astounding display of bad judgment, Premier Clark's response to the April 19th by-elections was posted to the government website. That may have been appropriate had she limited her remarks to congratulating the candidates, but most of the response was a rant about how to defeat the NDP with a coalition. That kind of partisan nonsense belongs on the BC Liberal website, not on a site paid for and maintained with taxpayer resources and the contact person for that kind of response should be a Liberal party official not an employee in the Premier's office, Communications Director Sara MacIntyre.

During the campaign the Premier's outreach director, Pamela Martin, was seen with Liberal candidates. It will take a freedom of information request for her appointment calendar to determine whether claims that she was on her day off can be verified. An FOI won't be required to verify partisan activity of the Premier's chief of staff, Ken Boessenkool. On April 20 the Globe and Mail reported that during the campaign he phoned the campaign director for the Conservatives, Hamish Marshall, to discuss politics. The article quotes MacIntyre saying: "we're going to reach out. We need to talk to people to find out what we need to do to strengthen the coalition." They don't seem to understand where the line is drawn between activities that should be financed by the Liberal party and activities that are appropriate for staff on the taxpayer's payroll.

In 1997 when Clark was first an MLA in the opposition caucus of Gordon Campbell, the Auditor General rapped the hands of the Liberal caucus for using public funds for a partisan mailing. The principle is no different now than it was 15 years ago. Partisan activities should be financed by political parties; public funds should be used for nonpartisan government activities. Perhaps the Auditor General needs to review what's going on in the Premier's office.