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Who bought the $25,000 dinner with Clark? And who paid for her trip?

The big question coming out of the weekend is who dropped 25 grand to sit with Christy Clark Friday night?

wblock-logoI didn’t attend the big Liberal money-grabbing soiree so I can’t say who forked over $25,000 to sit at the premier’s table and chew the fat with her … so to speak. Don’t even know if anyone doled out $10,000 for the single seat ticket ($25,000 got you two tickets). What I’d like to know is what happens if no one forks out the cash? Does she sit by herself?

Lots is being made of politicians pimping themselves out to raise cash for the party these days. Clark is unapologetic and leader NDP John Horgan feels he has to do it to keep with the Joneses, or Clarks in this case.

It’s understandable that businesses buy tickets to these events (regular price $85 a plate), but Bobby Deepak, who ran for the NDP in the 2013 election, is questioning why non-profit organizations also pay to get political. He has singled out the Exploration Place, which bought tickets at last year’s event.

“I personally think that it is outrageous that a publicly funded charitable organization is contributing to a political party – shame,” he posted on his Facebook page. “That is not how I want my tax dollars spent – regardless of the party.”

The Exploration Place gets about 45 per cent of its funding from the public purse.

The response from Exploration Place CEO Tracy Calegheros, who ran for the federal Liberals in the 2015 election, was that it is a great opportunity.

“Having the opportunity to ‘work a room’ like the one that gathers at the premier’s dinner is important,” Calogheros responded. “Christy Clark may not be your choice for premier, but she is our premier. We would be in attendance at something like that regardless of which party was putting it on. It’s the same reason we attend the Taste of India, Rotary or the chamber awards and why we make donations to other organizations silent auctions. Networking with community members, even those who do not share your political views, is how we learn from and add value to our society.”

I would suggest that a good portion of the private businesses who bought tables for Friday’s event also pocket public pennies, so why should non-profits be excluded from the line-up at the public trough?

The issue isn’t so much who is there, but why we allow it to happen at all. Why isn’t it against the law for a sitting premier to be sold, like a commodity, to the highest bidder? I just hope I can choke back the bile the next time the premier starts talking about integrity.

And then there’s the bigger question … who paid for Clark to come here, be feted, and go home? Did the Liberal party pay for it? Or did the taxpayers?

Typically for these events, the premier’s office will get the premier to make some sort of announcement when in town for these fundraisers in order to rationalize that the trip is official business. If it’s official business, she and her entourage travel on the public’s dime, even though everyone knows the real reason for the trip is the party fundraiser.

This time up Clark didn’t make any announcement. She did issue a statement urging everyone to be careful in the woods this summer. Nice sentiment, but one that could have been without the expense of flying Clark to Prince George, especially if it was an excuse to get the public to pay her way to a party event.

There is an easy solution to all this, however it’s one that Clark has pretty much guffawed at … eliminating corporate and union donations to political parties.


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