This week, Brent and I take a look at the recent government appointments of Gordon Wilson and Ben Stewart.
This week’s topic: Are government appointments special, or should appointees go through the usual hiring process?
If there is anything the last week in politics has shown us, it is that the public has little patience for patronage appointments at any level of government.
Whether it is federally via the Senate, or provincially with the recently announced jobs for Ben Stewart and Gordon Wilson by Premier Christy Clark, government appointments have been coming under fire, and with good reason.
Last week, Clark announced a list of government appointments, two of which received a large amount of criticism from the press, the NDP and the public alike. Stewart, the former MLA for Kelowna who stepped down so Clark could run in what was considered a “safe seat” for the BC Liberals, was appointed B.C.’s new Asia trade commissioner.
The position is based in Beijing, pays $150,000 base pay a year and is a plum position by any standard. Stewart, who owns a winery in the Okanagan, isn’t fluent in Chinese, nor does he have a background in trade or investment. His special skill set? In Clark’s own words, he is “known to have access to power and government” in B.C.
Wilson was appointed as the new buy B.C. liquefied natural gas advocate, a short-term position that comes with a $50,000 salary. Ironically, it was subsequently revealed that Wilson wrote of his skepticism of Clark’s LNG plans on his own website earlier this year. His blog is now marked private. The government assured the press Wilson no longer feels that opinion, but not a bad gig for a politico turned sheep farmer for endorsing Clark prior to the election.
The creation of these new government appointments is in no way special. In the public’s interest, candidates should have been chosen based on merit and not through political patronage. Both men did favours for Clark prior to being elected and have now been rewarded for doing so…
Read the rest of this weeks column here: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/11/03/public-deserves-appointees-who-have-competed-for-positions
And don’t forget to vote for who you think should win this weeks duel!
** Coming up on the blog this week: What happens when private development interests overwhelm city process? Check back soon to find out.