NEWS RELEASE · 5th October 2010
FOI DOCUMENTS SHOW PREMIER CAMPBELL USED PUBLIC FUNDS FOR PRIVATE BENEFIT
Documents attached below
Attendance at “strictly personal” Bilderberg meeting cost taxpayers $16,803.00
Port Coquitlam – The BC First Party has obtained documents via the Freedom of Information Act showing that BC Premier Gordon Campbell attended a private conference hosted by the Bilderberg Group in Sitges, Spain on June 3 of this year, paid for with public funds by the Premier’s Office.
BC First spokesman, Chris Delaney, says the documents show that the invitation from Bilderberg to Mr. Campbell was “strictly personal”, with instructions that he was not allowed to bring a spouse, substitute a replacement or to bring any staff.
The records show an Executive First Class return flight on Air Canada booked by the Premier’s Office on May 26, 2010, from Vancouver to Barcelona with a stopover in Frankfurt, totaling $13,298.54 CDN.
Departure was for June 3 with a return on June 6. The return flight also had a stopover in Frankfurt. There is a second invoice for a direct flight from Barcelona to Vancouver on Dutch airline KLM, also on June 6 for an additional $3,504.46 CND, presumably a re-booking of the originally scheduled return flight on Air Canada.
Delaney explained, “The total of all expenses picked up by the taxpayer for the premier’s private Bilderberg conference was $16,803.00. It is not clear whether Mr. Campbell’s hotel accommodations were paid by Bilderberg or himself as there are no records for those expenses.”
Delaney says this raises even more questions. "Did the premier pay for his own hotel and meals for the private conference? Or were they paid by someone else? In which case did he file a 'disclosure statement' of benefit as required under Section 7(3) of the Members' Conflict of Interest Act?” asked Delaney.
Delaney says CBC TV has confirmed that another high profile Canadian invited to the Bilderberg meeting, news anchor Peter Mansbridge, paid his own costs to attend.
“The Bilderberg letter makes clear the invitations are strictly personal, and not part of any official capacity. Mr. Campbell was not allowed any staff, nor could he send a surrogate, and the specific contents of the meeting were secret and not to be divulged to anyone in government or the public.”
“This appears to be a deliberate circumventing of taxpayer funds for personal benefit in direct contravention of Sections 2(1) and 5 of the Conflict of Interest Act,” said Delaney.
Delaney says there is no public interest served by having the premier attend a meeting where he can’t divulge the specific information obtained there. “He certainly has no business using $16,803.00 taxpayer’s dollars to fund his private participation in any venture, especially for such a circumspect and questionable group as Bilderberg.”
Delaney says not much is known about the secretive Bilderberg Group other than that it is populated by elites in international banking, major corporations, media and governments from around the world. It is said to meet once per year to discuss “global” issues and to recommend policy ideas and strategies for “world governance”. Until recently, the group even denied its own existence.
Delaney says in the case of citizen Campbell, the conflict is clear. The letter from Russ Fuller, Manager, Access and Records Services for the BC Government shows there are no records of re-payment by Mr. Campbell, nor any transfer of responsibility for the debt to himself.
“Even if he paid it back, it is totally inappropriate to have the government 'front' Mr. Campbell's private expenses. But there is no indication of repayment and the use of public funds by Mr. Campbell to attend a strictly personal conference leaves no question about a conflict.”
“The only question is, what will he do about it?” asked Delaney.
Delaney says the premier's answer to that question will determine his party's next steps in seeking restitution of this issue on behalf of the taxpayers of BC.
Following are the rules concerning conflicts of interest for members of the Legislature:
Members' Conflict of Interest Act
[RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 287
Conflict of interest
2 (1) For the purposes of this Act, a member has a conflict of interest when the member exercises an official power or performs an official duty or function in the execution of his or her office and at the same time knows that in the performance of the duty or function or in the exercise of the power there is the opportunity to further his or her private interest.
(2) For the purposes of this Act, a member has an apparent conflict of interest if there is a reasonable perception, which a reasonably well informed person could properly have, that the member's ability to exercise an official power or perform an official duty or function must have been affected by his or her private interest.
Conflict of interest prohibition
3 A member must not exercise an official power or perform an official duty or function if the member has a conflict of interest or an apparent conflict of interest.
4 A member must not use information that is gained in the execution of his or her office and is not available to the general public to further or seek to further the member's private interest.
5 A member must not use his or her office to seek to influence a decision, to be made by another person, to further the member's private interest.