Opinion Column

Heads should roll for secret payouts

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

Amrik Virk is the minister of advanced education. (FILE PHOTO)

Amrik Virk is the minister of advanced education. (FILE PHOTO)

When the rules for how much senior government-funded staff can make are broken once, it’s regrettable — when it happens time after time, it’s a clear pattern of deception.

That’s occurred repeatedly as well-paid bureaucrats are discovered to be getting under-the-table extra payments that are banned by government policies – but those doing the hiring deliberately violate them.

And it’s not just secret payoffs for new hires. You can flagrantly break conflict-of-interest rules, leaving your cushy $465,000-a-year government job and still get a severance package worth $114,000.

Senior heads should roll for these outrageous abuses of taxpayer dollars, but BC Liberal Finance Minister Mike de Jong just says “tut-tut” and does little more than ask for some money be returned or request a partial rollback in pay.

The latest in a long string of stinky salary supplements was unveiled last week when we learned the head of the BC Cancer Agency was hired in 2012 for $500,000 a year when the maximum allowed was $400,000.

The minister wants that salary rolled back $50,000, so it would only be $50,000 over the limit. That’s how de Jong gets tough.

Then it was the Royal B.C. Museum, where its CEO also wrongly got a “secondary contract” worth over $50,000.

But wait – there’s more. Michael Graydon, ex-head of the BC Lottery Corporation, got a severance package even though he quit to take a job with Paragon Gaming – which does business with BCLC.

BCLC asked Graydon to pay back $55,000, but if he doesn’t, well, nothing will likely happen.

Before that, BC New Democrat MLA David Eby triggered a government investigation into the secret $50,000 payment to Kwantlen Polytechnic University president Alan Davis.

Who was on Kwantlen’s board of directors that put through the undisclosed “pre-employment” contracts? Amrik Virk – now minister of advanced education and responsible for making sure such things don’t happen.

Yes, the BC Liberals truly have appointed the fox to guard the chicken coop.

“Troubling” and “disappointing” is what de Jong calls these cases.

But what’s “troubling” and “disappointing” is that Premier Christy Clark hasn’t fired Virk for misconduct and de Jong for incompetence.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read more at http://billtieleman.blogspot.com. Email: weststar@telus.net. Twitter: @BillTieleman.



Should Amrik Virk be fired as minister of advanced education?

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