Former Chilliwack MLA John Les

Premier axes ex-MLA’s earthquake contract

Premier Christy Clark moved quickly Wednesday to end criticism over a $140,000 contract to former Chilliwack politician John Les

VICTORIA – Premier Christy Clark said Wednesday she didn’t hear about former Chilliwack MLA John Les’ appointment until it was announced, and the deal is off.

Attorney General Suzanne Anton’s announcement Tuesday that Les would be paid up to $140,000 to lead an eight-month consultation on earthquake preparedness was greeted by a storm of controversy.

NDP critics questioned whether Les’ experience as a mayor and solicitor general was relevant to the province-wide project he was to chair. The vice-chair, former director of California’s Office of Emergency Services Henry Renteria, is to be paid up to $100,000.

Clark moved quickly to blunt the opposition attack Wednesday, announcing at the start of question period that the contract with Les has been withdrawn.

“It was a mistake,” Clark told reporters later. “I think the essence of leadership is not just making decisions, it’s also being able to course correct when you’ve made a mistake, and that’s what she [Anton] has done.”

Anton said she discussed the issue with Clark Wednesday morning, and they agreed the expenditure for Les’ services was too high.

The sudden reversal came as the appointment was being questioned by Metro Vancouver board chair Greg Moore, who said it is inappropriate for Les to take the job while lobbying for the company that operates the Cache Creek landfill.

Les has been a vocal opponent of Metro’s garbage incineration strategy and has lobbied Environment Minister Mary Polak to reject Metro’s new waste disposal bylaw that would end the practice of hauling garbage to cheaper landfills outside the Lower Mainland.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Moore said Wednesday. “To now be representing government to work with us when he’s been so opposed to so much we’ve done – I don’t see how it can actually happen.”

Les, who retired last year after 12 years as MLA, already has a three-year contract to chair the B.C. Farm Industry Review Board, which pays $60,000 a year.

Anton had argued that Les had unique experience as a former mayor and head of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, as well as a former solicitor general in charge of B.C.’s emergency management program.

 

Just Posted

Cooking with ‘Killer’

Reporter Dawn Gibson shares some of her favourite meals to make

Vic-Alert faces tidal wave of registration after tsunami warnings

City of Victoria system is free and provides early warnings of disaster

Tsunami warning after earthquake rattles Saanich residents

Scenes straight out of a disaster movie unfolded across Saanich Tuesday morning… Continue reading

Oak Bay reception centre at the ready for tsunami warning this morning

Local officials hold off on evacuation; warning ended shortly after 4 a.m.

Sirens don’t sing in tsunami warning for Esquimalt

Officials pleased with process, say sirens would have been activated had threat escalated.

WATCH: Greater Victoria residents gather at higher ground during tsunami warning

Ocean Boulevard and the Esquimalt Lagoon reopened shortly before 5 a.m. Tuesday

Touring art from war-torn Syria on display at Cedar Hill

Behind the Lines: Contemporary Syrian Art, Jan. 24 to Feb. 5 at Cedar Hill Arts Centre

Andrew Scheer on trade, Trump and Trudeau

Canada’s Conservative leader begins three-day visit to B.C.

Victoria’s most wanted for the week of Jan. 23

Crime Stoppers will pay a reward of up to $2,000 for information that leads to arrests or the seizure of property or drug

Victims restrained, sex toys and cash stolen from B.C. adult store

Armed suspects sought in adult store robbery

Babcock, Goyette and Smyth honoured at Order of Hockey in Canada

Mike Babcock, from Saskatoon, guided the Detroit Red Wings to a Stanley Cup in 2008

Bell Canada alerts customers who may be affected by latest data breach

Federal Office of the Privacy Commissioner said it had been notified

‘The tsunami alarm failed my household’: North Coast residents concerned over sirens, alerts

People living in northern communities share how they learned about Tuesday’s tsunami warning

Most Read