The last few weeks in the Legislature can be summed up with one short phrase: BC politics remain interesting.
The abridged version runs like this:
The Province newspaper prints an expose on student and faculty complaints at three BC private post-secondary institutions owned by Eminata Group. In this expose, we learn about Eminata owner Peter Chung’s background in the United States where he is charged with 10,000 business code violations and has been issued a $12 million fine. This all happened in 1993, and has yet to be resolved.
We also learn that Peter Chung and Eminata Group are significant donors to the BC Liberals, having donated over $14,000 — all interesting background to the story’s climax.
When The Province reporter started investigating this whole story, he appropriately sought comment from the Minister of Advanced Education who is responsible for regulating private universities and colleges like those owned by Eminata. He did this in writing via email. Then, while interviewing Eminata’s CEO, the CEO pulls out a copy of the reporter’s email to the minister. Asked how he got that email, the CEO replies “people care about what we do.” Shocked, the reporter is left wondering why and how his email was leaked to Eminata.
The NDP wondered the exact same thing, and I began asking questions in the Legislature. After two days in Question Period, the big news is revealed. Minister of State for Multiculturalism Harry Bloy, the only MLA to support Christy Clark in her bid for Liberal leader, admitted to leaking the email and resigns.
But the questions don’t end there. Why was the email passed to Bloy; why did the minister’s staff do it behind her back as she claims; why did Bloy leak it to Eminata; and when did the minister know her staff and Bloy were sharing emails? These are all questions that still need answering, and I continue to ask them in the Legislature everyday.
Along side this issue that has already cost a minister his seat, two other major issues occur.
First, the Liberals announce that they have approved Jumbo Glacier Resort despite the Kootenay’s overwhelming opposition. Our region already has the highest concentration of ski resorts in North America, and we enjoy hitting the slopes at all of them. But we know a bad idea when we see one, and that’s why we’ve been opposed to Jumbo Glacier Resort for over 20 years. Although the Liberals have ignored us to date, we will not let that continue.
Just after the NDP finished asking the Minister for Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations how he could make such a jumbo mistake, former cabinet Minister and Abbotsford MLA John Van Dongen rises in the House to announce he is leaving the Liberals to join the BC Conservatives. In his statement he expressed dismay at the current Liberal leadership and joins the NDP’s long standing call for a public inquiry in the BC Rail scandal. Needless to say, it was quite surprising.
I’ve been asked about my predictions for the weeks ahead, and after three years as your MLA all I can say is that there is no predicting what will happen in BC politics. I continue to work hard on the Eminata issue mentioned above along with important local issues like Jumbo and Selkrik College funding.
One thing I can predict, however, is that whatever happens in the next few weeks, it will be interesting.
Michelle Mungall is the Nelson-Creston MLA. Her column is featured once a month in the Star