Meet Christy Clark's Hard Right Advisor

Basher of enviros and unions, Gwyn Morgan blamed immigrants for crime. What does he like? US health care.

By Bill Tieleman 8 Mar 2011 | TheTyee.ca

Bill Tieleman is a regular Tyee contributor who writes a column on B.C. politics every Tuesday in 24 Hours newspaper. E-mail him at weststar@telus.net or visit his blog.

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Clark transition team member Gwyn Morgan, former CEO of gas giant Encana.

"It is my earnest submission that signing the Kyoto Protocol would go down in history as one of the most damaging international agreements ever signed by a Canadian prime minister." -- Gwyn Morgan, Christy Clark transition team advisor

Premier-designate Christy Clark says she is an "outsider" bringing "change" to the BC Liberal Party as its new leader.

And Clark claims the BC Liberal government "has been a leader in climate action" while under her new leadership it will promote "a cleaner environment for everyone."

But watch out if Clark's "change" is strongly influenced by her top transition team advisor Gwyn Morgan!

Because Morgan is a right-wing ideologue who bashes environmentalists, unions, federal Liberals and immigrants in a way that makes outgoing Premier Gordon Campbell seem like a pinko.

Morgan's controversial views even include ripping the Canadian Cancer Society for supporting a ban on carcinogenic insecticides and weed killers, saying the society was supporting "junk science," as were any "scientifically illiterate municipal councilors" who agreed with it.

After all, says Morgan: "The medical evidence is scant."

Why trust the Canadian Cancer Society when we can put our faith in Raid and Roundup? Spray on, Gwyn!

Morgan is also a defender of "Frankenfoods" -- genetically modified (GM) foods that some European countries have banned, despite Morgan saying there are "no credible studies showing negative impacts."

The green shiv

The former CEO of natural gas giant EnCana, Morgan helped fund a nasty third party advertising campaign eviscerating former Liberal leader Stephane Dion's "Green Shift" carbon tax plan in the 2008 federal election with a $20,000 donation to the right-wing National Citizens Coalition.

Ironically, the BC Liberal Party under Campbell brought in North America's only carbon tax -- which Clark supports. And Dion's leadership campaign was masterminded by Mark Marissen, Clark's now ex-husband, who helped guide her own BC Liberal Party win.

Morgan and his wife Pat Trottier also personally gave $1 million to the right-wing Fraser Institute's Foundation and he sits on the institute's board of directors.

That may explain his ardent opposition to anything mildly left of the libertarian right. For example, Morgan's views on the NDP:

"The New Democratic Party offers a typical socialist agenda. Tax and spend, subsidize unionized industry and make big business 'pay' -- the kind of policies that drove Ontario and British Columbia to the brink of economic ruin," Morgan wrote in a 2008 Globe and Mail column.

Never mind that the average economic growth during the 1990s when B.C. was under the "socialist" rule of NDP governments was three per cent compared to the two per cent growth achieved by the Gordon Campbell BC Liberals. Or that ex-NDP premier Glen Clark is now a senior vice-president to Jim Pattison, B.C.'s top business owner.

Ardent fan of Harper

Unsurprisingly, Morgan is a huge supporter of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- a former National Citizens Coalition president.

Harper attempted in 2006 to appoint Morgan as chair of a federal commission to oversee public appointments.

That move was blocked by opposition parties after details of a Fraser Institute speech he gave in Dec. 2005 came out, in which Morgan blamed immigrants who "come from countries where the culture is dominated by violence and lawlessness" for rising Canadian crime rates, praised the private U.S. health care model and attacked unions for negatively affecting businesses.

Morgan and Trottier are also involved in former Reform Party leader Preston Manning's right-wing Manning Centre for Building Democracy, Morgan on the board of directors, Trottier the council of advisors. The Manning Centre patrons include Mike Harris, Gary Filmon and Ralph Klein -- the former Conservative Party premiers of Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta respectively, as well as ex-Reform strategists Tom Flanagan and Rick Anderson.

Cold shoulder for Grits?

All of this is well and good -- but Clark's federal Liberal friends must be appalled at her taking advice from this most fundamentalist capital "C" Conservative. After all, Clark is a former aide to federal cabinet minister Doug Young and someone whose potential leadership prompted top Conservatives like John Reynolds to speak out against publicly before the BC Liberal vote Feb. 26.

And it's not like Morgan is soft on federal Liberals.

After the sponsorship scandal, Morgan claimed that the federal Liberal Party was "embroiled in behaviour that is comparable to that of countries at the bottom of the world corruption index."

But on the other hand he praised Stephen Harper, who Morgan said was the victim of "an orchestrated attempt to impugn a Canadian political leader [Harper] whose integrity is beyond reproach and a person who openly honours Christian values, but respects all religions."

Trottier also was involved in an interesting 2008 third-party advertising effort to support Conservative cabinet minister Gary Lunn win re-election against environmentalist-supported Liberal Briony Penn in Saanich-South Island.

As The Tyee's Andrew MacLeod reported, five different groups registered as third-party advertisers in the election -- but all of them used the office of Conservative lawyer Bruce Hallsor as their address.

Trottier's previously unknown Economic Advisory Council of Saanich was one of them.

"They all wanted to register groups as third party advertisers, so I did that for them," Hallsor said then. "It's the right of every citizen who wants to express their opinion in an election to do so up to the spending limit."

That spending limit of $3,666 for each group allowed them to buy ads supporting Lunn outside his Conservative Party spending limit of $92,000.

Nothing green in sight

Morgan's advisory role to Clark also must be frightening for a coalition of prominent environmental groups who encouraged their supporters to join the BC Liberal Party to influence the leadership vote in favour of the most ecologically minded candidate.

Morgan's hard-edged opposition to the Kyoto Accord, aversion to climate change initiatives and support for pretty much the whole big oil agenda isn't what they were hoping for.

And Clark had already blown away their dreams before the leadership vote when she promised to make reversing the rejection of the Prosperity Mine in northern B.C. over environmental concerns even the Harper Conservatives couldn't ignore the priority for her federal-provincial relations agenda.

Now with Morgan advising her -- and donating $10,000 to her leadership campaign -- don't expect Clark to pay any mind to environmental concerns. He's not only originally a Calgary energy industry boss but also someone who says "we applaud the government for trying to open up the offshore" of B.C. for oil and gas drilling.

Want to keep using cancer-causing insecticides? Hate the Kyoto Accord? Support oil and gas exploration and tanker travel on B.C.'s ecologically sensitive coastline?

Love those federal Conservatives, but only so long as they stay on the Fraser Institute's narrow agenda?

Then Gwyn Morgan is your man. And he's advising B.C.'s new "outsider" Premier Christy Clark on how to run a government.

Change is in the air. Or is that just Raid?  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics, Environment

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