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After Lucrative Years as a BC Hydro Consultant, Weisgerber Returns to Board

Former Peace River Socred MLA says his Site C work is done.

By Andrew MacLeod 10 Jun 2014 | 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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During his tenure as a BC Hydro consultant, Jack Weisgerber made at least $70,000 and as much as $206,000 in each of the last four years for which the Crown corporation has financial information available.

After several lucrative years as a consultant to BC Hydro, former MLA Jack Weisgerber is returning to a position on the Crown corporation's board.

"Happy to be back," said Weisgerber in a phone interview. "Despite the financial consideration, I always missed the time I spent on the board. I left with some regret in 2007."

Weisgerber was the MLA for Peace River South from 1986 to 2001. During that period he served in Social Credit governments as the minister of native affairs, as the ministry was then known, and as the minister of energy, mines and petroleum resources.

He also for short periods led each of the Socred and BC Reform parties. Ahead of the 2001 election he endorsed the BC Liberals and Gordon Campbell, who appointed him to the BC Hydro board.

In 2007 Weisgerber left the board, where he was paid $37,125 plus $8,008 in expenses during his last full year, to consult for the Crown corporation.

As a consultant, he made at least $70,000 and as much as $206,000 in each of the last four years for which BC Hydro has financial information available.

Staggering numbers, Horgan said then

Then NDP energy critic, now leader of the party, John Horgan said at the time there should be rules restricting directors of Crown corporations from leaving and immediately taking jobs consulting to the same agency.

"The numbers are staggering," he said. Weisgerber had valuable experience as an MLA for the region and sitting on the BC Treaty Commission, he said, but added, "It's still grotesque that he could have ingratiated himself to senior Hydro executives as their boss on the board, then moved on to bigger cheques on the procurement side."

Now that Weisgerber's returning to the board and taking a pay cut, Horgan declined via a spokesperson to comment.

Weisgerber's work as a consultant to BC Hydro involved community consultations, including with First Nations, on the Site C hydroelectric project proposed for the Peace River. As the project has moved through the consultation process and is now in the hands of the B.C. and Canadian governments for a decision, the time seemed right to return to the board, he said.

He indicated an interest to the board resourcing and development office, and submitted a document outlining his experience, interests and references, he said. Beyond that he said he doesn't know what the selection process involved. The order in council appointing him is dated June 6, 2014.

Canceled contract

Weisgerber resigned as a consultant as soon as he was appointed to the board by letting the BC Hydro vice president responsible for Site C know, he said. "When I was advised... that it had been approved, I immediately sent a letter to Susan Yurkovich with notification of the cancelation of my contract."

Either side could cancel the contract on short notice, he said.

He said he looks forward to sharing with the board the insights he's gained over the past seven years working with First Nations and regional groups. "I've always had a great interest in BC Hydro. I think it's a fascinating vehicle for British Columbia."

In fiscal 2012-13, the most recent available, BC Hydro paid Weisgerber Consulting $134,585. In the four previous years he received $72,169, $138,309, $201,542 and $206,743.

A spokesperson for BC Hydro said directors are entitled each year to a retainer of $15,000, up to $22,500 for attending meetings, and $3,000 for chairing committees.

Weisgerber hasn't been appointed to any committees yet, so can expect to start at up to $37,500 a year.  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics

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