Clark and Stewart (Photo: Flickr)
Clark and Stewart (Photo: Flickr)

BC Legislature is not sitting this fall, MLA’s are either at home or doing small work in their ridings, while Premier Christy Clark is obsessively concentrated on trade and investment with Asia. She’ll be on the road to several Asian destinations during November, her deputy Rich Coleman recently finished a visit to Asia and now BC has new investment and trade Commissioner to the Far East. Former MLA and Cabinet Minister Ben Stewart who graciously offered his seat to Premier Clark after her debacle in Vancouver-Point Grey on last elections now will represent province in Asia for annual pay of $150,000.

This is another controversial move by the Premier in a times when Legislature is not sitting, government is not accountable to the people and the opposition. Second interesting element in the story about Stewarts appointment is a number of people already working on behalf of BC in Asia.

“This is consistent with the advice that I have received from our business community, from our trading partner and from government officials — we need a representative in Asia who is known to have access to power and government here in B.C.,” said Clark on press conference announcing Stewart appointment. 

Premier Clark also described Stewart as uniquely experienced to lead BC’s mission to the east. Exactly that description raised many brows in Vancouver and BC on Monday, especially among those who closely follow BC political scene. Yes Stewart is business owner, entrepreneur and politically engaged person but I would like to know what exactly makes him so special to be our representative in Asia, that’s why I agree with  Vaughn Palmer who wrote in his column in The Vancouver Sun:

“Precisely how the affable one-term MLA, ex-minister and proprietor of a successful B.C. winery was qualified to undertake any of this was not clear from the background material provided by the government.

According to several media reports BC already has four well established offices in Asia, staffed with several dozens of qualified managers and other personal continuously working on behalf of the province. If Asian business people or corporation are eager to have at hand someone who’s well connected to the government and people in it then why Premier doesn’t befriend some of already present managers and open them Cabinet doors to get better involved and connected with ministers? Why we need to create “Commissioner” position just to have that access to minister and pay that person some $150,000 annual salary? Clark run her election campaign on promise to have budget restrains and cut deficit down but almost every week some new position or pay increase is announced or discovered by media.

Christy Clark in India - November 2011 (Photo: Flickr)
Christy Clark in India – November 2011 (Photo: Flickr)

What BC truly needs are investments and to be honest recently public haven’t heard about any significant investment coming from Asia or South East Asia despite Clark’s numerous visits to the region since she become Premier. So let people already based in Asia to their jobs and start doing yours at the Legislature, deliver new laws and regulations opening those investment doors to investors from Asia.