Democracy Watch loses conflict argument involving premier in B.C. court

Democracy Watch loses B.C. conflict argument

VANCOUVER — An advocacy group has lost its legal bid to have two rulings by B.C.’s conflict of interest commissioner involving Premier Christy Clark set aside.

Democracy Watch released a copy Wednesday of the B.C. Supreme Court decision dismissing its petition for an order that would review and set aside the conflict commissioner’s decisions on the provincial Liberal party’s fundraising activities.

The case stemmed from two decisions released last year by the province’s conflict commissioner, Paul Fraser, who applied to have the case dismissed, arguing his rulings are protected by legislative privilege and are not subject to review by the courts.

Justice Kenneth Affleck said in his written ruling that as an officer of the legislature, the commissioner makes recommendations to the house, which then chooses whether to exercise any discipline over its members.

“It is for the legislature to consider the conduct of its officers, when they are performing their assigned role, not the courts,” the ruling says.

The conflict commissioner’s rulings cleared Clark of conflict allegations connected to her attendance at party fundraising events.

Fraser ruled last May that the premier’s appearances did not constitute a conflict of interest because she did not receive a personal benefit.

In another ruling on similar allegations in August, he said he considered the matter closed.

Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher argued that the Conflict of Interest Act doesn’t include any clauses that would prevent a judicial review.

The group is considering appealing the court’s ruling.

The Canadian Press

Canadian Press