Christy Clark needs to provide better answers about her previously undisclosed role with RCI Capital Group.
In 2007, Clark signed a contract to become founding chair and director of an RCI subsidiary that hoped to win multimillion-dollar contracts to bring international students to Canadian universities. The universities would get high-paying students; RCI would get money for recruiting the students in Asia; and Clark would get finder’s fees and four per cent of revenues.
Since becoming premier, Clark has promoted RCI, which collects fees for arranging foreign investments in Canada, on two trade missions and appeared at a company media event.
The appearance of conflict is unavoidable, especially as Clark failed to disclose her past involvement with RCI. A politically well-connected company that employed Clark is benefitting from her efforts as premier.
And Clark’s explanations have failed to add up.
Initially, she denied a connection with RCI and founder and CEO John Park.
When a National Post reporter showed her the contract she had signed to work for the company, Clark said she never actually did any work or got paid.
“When I worked in the private sector, I talked about doing some work with them — but I was never paid for any work with them,” said Clark.
But Clark didn’t “talk about” doing work. She signed a contract, which promised an annual salary and bonuses - $20,000 if some B.C. universities came on board.
Clark says she left the firm by calling Park and telling him she couldn’t do any work for the company because she was starting a new job as a talk show host for CKNW.
Anyway, she says, she understood the project never went anywhere and the subsidiary was shut down within a couple of months.
But the contract was signed by Clark on Sept. 27. She had already been working for CKNW for a month by then. That claim doesn’t add up.
And reporter Bob Mackin shared a letter that RCI sent to the University of New Brunswick proposing a $52-million deal to recruit and deliver international students. That letter referred to Clark as the company's current chairwoman. And it indicates she was copied on the proposal.
So the claim the company was quickly shut down doesn’t add up.
The other problem is that Clark’s approach to this looks inexplicably sloppy.
She took the time to sign a contract - and even amend it to improve her compensation - to join the company. She accepted a director’s role, which carries serious responsibilities. She allowed her name to be used to promote it.
But when she quit, she apparently never thought of sending a resignation letter. A phone call was supposed somehow to nullify the contract.
That’s baffling. Any competent person knows the importance of handling business affairs properly. A signed contract can’t be undone with a phone call. A letter of resignation - which Clark should have been able to produce when questions arose - was required.
Parks’ explanations have been equally puzzling. Initially, he denied Clark had ever had a role with RCI.
Confronted with evidence, he said Clark had been hired, but the company was quickly shut down.
But the province’s corporate registry shows the subsidiary wasn’t shut down until 2011, after Clark was elected premier.
Park blames sloppiness in doing the paperwork to close the company, though he hasn't produced any written evidence to support his claims about when the subsidiary ceased operations.
It’s the second revelation about previously undisclosed and relevant business activities that have emerged. Clark was also a partner in her former husband’s lobbying company during her time out of office, but never revealed her role.
Clark was entitled to work during her break from politics. But citizens are entitled to disclosure of those activities - particularly when Clark is using her position in government to advance the interests of those companies.