AIDE DE PLONK — After the week she had, Premier Christy Clark likely needed a drink. Lucky for her, B.C. gained a wine envoy the same day the premier lost one of her top aides.
Clark’s deputy chief of staff, Kim Haakstad, resigned over the ethnic outreach scandal on Friday just as Herb LeRoy began the job of trying to get more Canadians reaching for B.C. wines.
LeRoy, who was previously the private secretary to the lieutenant-governor, will earn $6,000 a year plus travel expenses in his new post.
Officially, his job is to open up domestic markets and “reduce barriers so that B.C. wine can be enjoyed by Canadians from sea to sea to sea.” Unofficially, the honorary position is known as the Best Job Ever.
TAXING MARATHON — Finance Minister Mike de Jong and Opposition NDP finance critic Bruce Ralston deserve awards of some sort for their performances during debate on the bill that restores the provincial sales tax.
The duo faced off Monday morning and slogged through a line-by-line debate of no fewer than 308 sections of the bill. They completed the marathon Tuesday evening — still on cordial terms.
The remarkable 31Ú2-year saga of the harmonized sales tax — from its shock introduction through the taxpayers’ revolt, the referendum campaign, the repudiation by voters, the resignation of a premier, the budgetary chaos and the frantic effort to return to the old system — concluded with de Jong thanking staff for their work on “a statutory instrument that I hope, in the circumstances, will serve British Columbians well.”
PST PAIN — De Jong carried a heavy burden on the PST this week, not the least of which was carting four enormous binders of material into the house for debate.
“You can see the PST hasn’t just been a pain in my neck, now it’s a pain in my back,” he quipped as he teetered down the hallway, barely visible under his briefing material.
WABASH CANNONBALLS — Jobs Minister Pat Bell has an obvious professional bias for resource development.
But after announcing plans to retire due to concern about an aneurysm that may need surgery, he has a personal stake, too.
Bell told the house that someone calculated that every time a coal train rolls out of the East Kootenays, it generates enough “economic activity to pay for about four cardiac surgeries.”
Referring to his new, personal attachment to the concept, he said: “Let them trains roll, baby. Let them trains roll.”
LIBERALS ARE SCHUSSING — After a lengthy detailed tribute to the skiing industry from a B.C. Liberal MLA, NDP tourism critic Spencer Chandra Herbert thanked him “for devoting some time to his government’s efforts to go downhill fast. It certainly has been paying off.”
— With files from Les Leyne, Rob Shaw and Lindsay Kines
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