Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Conflict Commissioner Launches Review of Exclusive Political Events

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Conflict Commissioner Launches Review of Exclusive Political Events

Article excerpt

B.C. conflict watchdog to review fundraising

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VICTORIA - British Columbia's conflict of interest commissioner says he will review two complaints that exclusive, high-priced fundraising events promising access to political leaders are breaches of a provincial law.

Paul Fraser said in a letter that he plans to issue one opinion after reviewing the complaints about the practice of B.C. politicians participating in fundraising events.

New Democrat MLA David Eby and Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher filed separate complaints following media reports that Premier Christy Clark participates in fundraising events where people pay thousands of dollars for exclusive access to her.

"If you are behind closed doors with a small group and it's a high price, you're selling access to yourself and you're getting a benefit from the money raised because it's going to be used for your re-election campaign, and that's a violation clearly of the prohibition on accepting gifts and other benefits," Conacher said Thursday in an interview from Ottawa.

"We're not saying all fundraising events are illegal, just the ones that are exclusive, behind closed doors, where the list of invitees is not disclosed," he said. "If you are holding a big public event, with a low price, where anyone can buy a ticket and you give a speech and then you leave -- maybe shake a few hands, that's it -- you are not selling access to yourself."

Fraser responded to Conacher's request this week with a letter stating he will issue one opinion on the matter.

"Mr. Eby's request is also related to the practice of members participating in 'exclusive' fundraising events and whether such activities are compatible with members' obligations under the act," stated Fraser's letter. "Given that both requests relate to the same subject matter, I expect that the concerns you raise may be addressed in the opinion issued in response to Mr. …

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