Former Chilliwack MLA John Les

Premier axes ex-MLA’s earthquake contract

Premier Christy Clark moved quickly Wednesday to end criticism over a $140,000 contract to former Chilliwack politician John Les

VICTORIA – Premier Christy Clark said Wednesday she didn’t hear about former Chilliwack MLA John Les’ appointment until it was announced, and the deal is off.

Attorney General Suzanne Anton’s announcement Tuesday that Les would be paid up to $140,000 to lead an eight-month consultation on earthquake preparedness was greeted by a storm of controversy.

NDP critics questioned whether Les’ experience as a mayor and solicitor general was relevant to the province-wide project he was to chair. The vice-chair, former director of California’s Office of Emergency Services Henry Renteria, is to be paid up to $100,000.

Clark moved quickly to blunt the opposition attack Wednesday, announcing at the start of question period that the contract with Les has been withdrawn.

“It was a mistake,” Clark told reporters later. “I think the essence of leadership is not just making decisions, it’s also being able to course correct when you’ve made a mistake, and that’s what she [Anton] has done.”

Anton said she discussed the issue with Clark Wednesday morning, and they agreed the expenditure for Les’ services was too high.

The sudden reversal came as the appointment was being questioned by Metro Vancouver board chair Greg Moore, who said it is inappropriate for Les to take the job while lobbying for the company that operates the Cache Creek landfill.

Les has been a vocal opponent of Metro’s garbage incineration strategy and has lobbied Environment Minister Mary Polak to reject Metro’s new waste disposal bylaw that would end the practice of hauling garbage to cheaper landfills outside the Lower Mainland.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Moore said Wednesday. “To now be representing government to work with us when he’s been so opposed to so much we’ve done – I don’t see how it can actually happen.”

Les, who retired last year after 12 years as MLA, already has a three-year contract to chair the B.C. Farm Industry Review Board, which pays $60,000 a year.

Anton had argued that Les had unique experience as a former mayor and head of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, as well as a former solicitor general in charge of B.C.’s emergency management program.

 

Just Posted

Nisga’a leader named UNBC chancellor

Dr. Joseph Arthur Gosnell is the first Indigenous leader to assume the role

Cache Creek council votes to rejoin local transit system

Details need to be worked out, but hopes are that change can be expedited

Ashcroft residents get information at Community Forum

Water treatment plant, recycling, an Eco-Depot, the budget, and more among items addressed

Elizabeth May’s wedding will be a ‘low-carbon affair’ in Victoria on Earth Day

Green party leader’s wedding party to depart in a cavalcade of electric cars

VIDEO: ‘Alarm bells’ raised by footage allegedly from B.C. pig farm, SPCA says

PETA released video Wednesday showing dead and injured piglets next to nursing piglets

Haida youth travels to New York for UN forum on Indigenous issues

Haana Edensaw presented her speech in Xaad Kil, Masset dialect of the Haida language

Female real estate agents warned of suspicious man in Metro Vancouver

The man requests to see homes alone with the female agent, police say

Can you put your phone down for Mother’s Day?

#DiningMode campaign encourages people to leave the phone alone while eating

Horgan heckled as gas prices sit at record high, could go up more

Premier John Horgan blames refiners, not taxes

SPCA investigating after newborn kittens found in Vancouver dumpster

The kittens were found suffering from hypothermia and dehydration

Judge rejects hunter’s bid to get back a sheep shot in northern B.C.

Despite expert testimony, judgement says ram probably underage

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

“Oona River Poems” captures northwest B.C.’s landscapes

Canadian writer Peter Christensen releases his latest book, will tour the northwest later this year

Most Read