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Christy Clark Discloses Zero Assets

Last year she declared investments; this April she revealed none in her public statement.

By Andrew MacLeod 30 May 2013 | TheTyee.ca

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative bureau chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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Premier Clark: Did BC's most powerful woman dump all her stocks, or just not declare them this time around?

The premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark, declared absolutely no assets on the statement of disclosure she filed one month before the election.

While it might be surprising that someone who made more than $177,000 last year would have no investments, more odd is that it's a departure from eight months earlier when she did report being a shareholder in corporations.

All candidates for election are required to file a statement of disclosure under the Financial Disclosure Act. Part of it requires them to "list the name of each corporation in which you hold one or more shares, including shares held by a trustee on your behalf."

Guidelines set out by the ministry of the attorney general make it clear that disclosures should include not just stocks, but any mutual funds that may include corporate shares.

On Clark's form, signed and dated April 11, 2013, the premier listed no assets. Nor did she include any liabilities, a section that is to include any debts to creditors, not including a mortgage on residential property or money borrowed for household or personal living expenses.

The only things Clark claimed are a property on Galiano Island, her salary as premier and an MLA, and income she receives as leader of the BC Liberal Party, which in the past she has said is a car allowance.

Premier previously had investments

The blank sections on the premier's disclosure form are at odds with a public disclosure statement she made last year under a separate process that applies to sitting MLAs.

Under the Members' Conflict of Interest Act, each MLA meets once a year with Conflict of Interest Commissioner Paul Fraser to determine what assets, liabilities and income they need to publicly declare. The reporting requirements are similar to those of the Financial Disclosure Act.

According to Clark's MCIA public disclosure statement dated Nov. 30, 2012, she had both "investments held inside a registered plan," which were identified as an RRSP, and "securities and other interests in public corporations."

In both cases the form said "all trading [is] discretionary, administered by Canaccord Financial -- prior advice and contents of portfolio not disclosed to Member."

Clark's statement also listed a "homeline line of credit" with the Royal Bank.

The information was current as of Sept. 7, 2012, said the statement signed by commissioner Fraser. Any "material change in the assets, liabilities, and financial interests of the member" need to be reported to the commissioner within 30 days of the change, according to the law.

An official in the legislative clerk's office says they've received no such notice for Clark since her last disclosure statement.

So did Clark, who campaigned on a debt-free B.C. platform, liquidate her RRSP and other investments ahead of the election? Or did she fail to make a full statement of disclosure, an offence that carries a $10,000 fine?

A spokesperson for Clark noted The Tyee's emailed questions, but said answers would be unavailable until May 30. *

Coleman found nothing to declare

Clark was not the only candidate whose Financial Disclosure Act statement didn't match their Members' Conflict of Interest Act disclosure.

Powerful BC Liberal cabinet minister Rich Coleman listed no assets, no liabilities, no income and no real property on his pre-election form, which he signed and dated April 10, 2013.

But as of Aug. 29, 2012, according to a public disclosure statement from last November, Coleman had "a blind trust pursuant to s. 9(4) of the MCOI Act."

Nor has the Clerk's office received any notice of a material change for Coleman since then.

Nor did he declare the salary he would have been receiving as an MLA and cabinet minister ahead of the election.

A BC Liberal spokesperson took questions by email, but did not respond by publication time.

In recent years, the province's conflict of interest commissioner has allowed cabinet ministers to keep their assets secret by putting them in a trust managed by someone else on their behalf without their knowledge of the holdings.

Returning cabinet ministers Ben Stewart and Moira Stilwell noted that arrangement on their Financial Disclosure Act statements. As Stilwell put it, "All trading discretionary, administed [sic] by Odlum Brown and Bank of Nova Soctia (Scotia McLeod). Prior advice and contents of portfolio not disclosed to me or my spouse. (as per Members' Conflict of Interest Act and as per disclosure)."

However, the Financial Disclosure Act makes no mention of the conflict of interest commissioner, nor the possibility of using a blind trust to manage assets. And it makes explicit that it is a separate law, saying in part, "This Act is supplementary to and does not affect a duty or obligation to disclose an interest under any other law."

While avoiding mentioning any stocks he may own, Stewart's disclosure includes several pages listing properties on Stillingfleet Road, Gordon Drive, Guisachan Place and Cameron Avenue, held by Aberdeen Holdings Ltd., a subsidiary of the Double S. Cannery Group Inc., which is itself a subsidiary of Bacas Holdings Ltd.. Stewart's best known family business is the Quails' Gate Winery.

Lists of investments Stilwell and Stewart held when they were first elected are included in a Tyee report from 2009.

Bank account numbers provided

Other candidates in the provincial election far exceeded the legal requirements to declare their financial interests.

Norm Letnick was the agriculture minister before the election and was re-elected as the MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country. Instead of just listing the names of corporations in which he holds more than one share, as the Financial Disclosure Act requires, Letnick attached banking statements that include amounts and even account numbers.

The returning minister has $251,475.68 in an RRSP, his wife has $230,245.73 in her RRSP and they jointly held an RESP worth $53,527.16, his disclosure form said. His investments include Enbridge Inc., Fortis Inc., Telus Corp., TransCanada Corp., BCE Inc., Corus Entertainment Inc. and more.

Although the form candidates complete makes clear what they submit will be made available to the public, Letnick was not the only one to overshare. The NDP's Tom Friedman, who lost in Kamloops-South Thompson, listed numbers for six accounts, including his "every day savings" at TD-Canada Trust.

And Amrik Tung, who lost for the BC Liberal Party in Surrey-Green Timbers included not only account statements with numbers, but also corporate income tax returns.

BC Liberal's pipeline concerns

While many of the candidates found little to disclose, several included things in their statements that are worth noting.

Mike Morris, a BC Liberal who replaces Pat Bell in Prince George-Mackenzie, has an ownership stake with his brother in Boreal Retreats Ltd., an ecotourism company that planned a high-end lodge for an area northwest of Prince George. In 2011 the company filed an intervenor statement with the Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel saying that while they support the pipeline they were opposed to its route.

"The business plans for the venture relied explicitly on the wealth of intellectual capital accrued by Mike over more than three decades of hunting and trapping that specific area, and the existing infrastructure of more than 120 kilometres of trail," the statement said. "Moving the operating area out of the line of the proposed pipeline route would dilute the value of the business model to such an extent as to make it unworkable."

The new MLA for Chilliwack-Hope, Laurie Throness, helpfully listed not just the names of stocks he holds, but also the number of shares he owns. His 200 shares of Methanex Corp. were worth a total of about $9,082 this week. His 200 shares of First Nickel Inc., however, were worth just $6, trading at three cents each.

Throness, a BC Liberal, also owns shares in Altair Nanotechnologies (517), Electrovaya Inc. (2,500) and Santa Fe Gold Corporation (1,150).

He also listed income as a consultant working for Chuck Strahl Consulting Inc. and as a "public speaker" for speaking twice at the Chilliwack Alliance Church.

Darryl Plecas, elected as a BC Liberal in Abbotsford South, owns shares in Shore Gold Inc., Canalaska Uranium Ltd., Connacher Oil and Gas Ltd. and the BCGT Northern Family Limited Partnership. He was also carrying debt on three different credit cards and held a mining lease near Kimberley.

Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson owned stock in BCE Inc., Royal Bank of Canada and pipeline company TransCanada Corp..

Former paralympian and new Parksville-Qualicum BC Liberal MLA Michelle Stilwell has shares of McKewen Mining Inc. in a tax free savings account.

Also disclosed

Dan Ashton, elected in Penticton for the BC Liberals, has a long list of stocks, including Response Biomedical Corp., MRU Holdings Inc. (now bankrupt), Gainey Capital Corp., 88 Capital Corp., Signature Resources, Astur Gold Corp., CBM Asia Development Corp., Catalyst Copper Corp., Encanto Potash Corp., Entree GLD Inc., Gran Colombia Gold Corp, Levon RES LTD, Petra Petroleum Inc., PetroAmerica Oil Corp., Petromanas Energy Inc., Prescient Mining Corp., Rochester RES Ltd., US Oil Sands Inc., West African Iron Ore Corp and Endeavour Mining Corp..

Ashton also holds Burnstone Ventures Inc., CRH Medical Corp, Cantex Mine Development Corp., Carbon Friendly Solutions Inc., Continental Precious Minerals Inc., Cypress Development Corp., Franco-Nevada Corp., Goldcliff Resource Corp., Hymex Diamond Corp., Mediterranean Resources Ltd., Mira Resources Corp., Nuinsco Resources Ltd., Prism Resources Inc., Supreme Resources Ltd., Victory Nickel Inc. and Westfort Energy Ltd..

Surrey-Panorama MLA Marvin Hunt, a BC Liberal, owns shares in Tchaikazan Enterprises Inc., the Advanced Energy Income Trust and HIS Investments Ltd.. He also had income as an instructor at Pacific Life Bible College.

Suzanne Anton, elected as a BC Liberal in Vancouver-Fraserview, holds shares in the A & W Revenue Royalties Income Fund, the Bank of Montreal and CIBC.

Ralph Sultan, who was the minister of state for seniors before being re-elected in West Vancouver-Capilano, has shares in Royal Bank, Pretium Resources, Canadian National Railway, Encana, Canadian Natural Resources, McDonald Dettwiler, Goldcorp, Canfor, Microsoft, Intel and United Technologies.

Jordan Sturdy, elected in West Vancouver-Sea to Sky for the Liberals, owns stock in Canada Western Bank and PetroCanada.

Greg Kyllo, a BC Liberal elected in Shuswap, included a spreadsheet that lists 18 companies involved in various businesses, including building and operating houseboats, building worker accommodations, leasing equipment and operating a motel.

The University of Victoria professor elected in Oak Bay-Gordon Head as the first Green Party MLA, Andrew Weaver, owns three properties in Parksville. He's also a director of consulting company Solterra Solutions Ltd., an owner of TCS The Carbon Solution Inc. Environmental Corp. which sells t-shirts and prints.

Unsuccessful NDP candidates Kathy Kendall in Kamloops-North Thompson and Barry Avis in Parksville-Qualicum each had a long list of blue chip investments.

Jane Shin, elected for the NDP in Burnaby-Lougheed, owed car payments to BMW Canada.

* Paragraph clarified at 11:10 a.m., May 30, 2013.  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics

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