Premier Christy Clark feels it’s entirely appropriate for the head of B.C. Hydro to join her election team and travel the province with her, advising her during the upcoming election campaign—and to do so without taking a leave of absence from his job.
Earlier this month, Brad Bennett said Clark personally asked him to reprise his role from the campaign four years ago when he rode the Liberals campaign bus with Clark each day in the last few weeks leading up to the vote, helping her drum up the support that lead to her party’s seemingly improbable come-back victory.
At the time, Bennett was not the chairman of B.C. Hydro. A year after the Liberals won the 2013 election, Clark appointed him to head of the huge Crown corporation.
Asked if she felt it was appropriate for Bennett to work for her campaign again, this time given his current position—and not to take a leave of absence to do so—Clark said as a volunteer, Bennett can do as he pleases.
“I don’t think its a surprise to anyone that Brad Bennett supports free enterprise,” Clark said Thursday in West Kelowna to laughter from several of her supporters gathered to hear her announce new funding for the fight against invasive mussels entering B.C.
Bennett is the son of former B.C. premier Bill Bennett and the grandson of another former B.C. premier, WAC Bennett. Clark is running for re-election in a area that used to make up part of both former premiers’ ridings.
When Brad Bennett told reporters he plans to join Clark’s campaign for the upcoming election, he shrugged off the notion there would be any conflict by working directly to help his boss get re-elected, or that the people whom he said he actually works for—the ratepayers of BC Hydro—would, in essence, be paying him to campaign for Clark because he will not taking leave from his role as BC Hydro chairman to do so.
But Clark’s NDP opponent in the soon-to-be-renamed Kelowna West riding disagreed.
Shelly Cook said it appears to her to be a conflict of interest.
“This appears to be another example of blurring the lines when it comes to conflict,” said Cook. “It’s certainly questionable.”
Bennett said his volunteering for Clark’s campaign would be no different than other BC Hydro employee’s participation in the election.