Clark’s office defends massive credit card bill
CTV British Columbia
Published Thursday, August 2, 2012 7:03PM PDT
Last Updated Friday, August 3, 2012 11:20AM PDT
Trips to the liquor store, a purchase at a boutique jeweller and several restaurant tabs in the thousands of dollars are among the roughly 1,300 transactions being defended by B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s office as the cost of doing business.
The credit card charges, posted on the Ministry of Finance website, totaled $475,015 for the 2011/12 fiscal year, significantly more than the $389,858 spent during Gordon Campbell’s last year as premier.
The numbers fell short of the $506,053 in premier’s office expenses for 2009/10, however, the year Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympic Games.
Among the expenses charged to Clark’s office in the fiscal year ending in March 2012 were more than $20,000 in Air Canada flights, $500 in BC Liquor Store purchases and a one-time charge for $1,392 at Artinas Jewellery.
But some of the most shocking expenses were incurred at high-end restaurants, including $2,279 at Bishop’s, $2,256 at Cioppino’s, $2,628 at Lift Bar and Grill and $3,276 at Ferris’ Oyster Bar – which would buy approximately 1,570 freshly-shucked oysters.
The report does not include explanations for the expenses, but the pricey restaurant bills were all charged during the two premiers’ conferences hosted in B.C. over the last year.
Clark’s office said all the expenses are legitimate and justifiable, attributing the increase in charges over the previous year to the fact that it took over operation of intergovernmental relations and executed two highly-publicized trade missions overseas.
They say every charge fell within provincial guidelines, and has been reviewed and accepted by government auditors.
NDP opposition leader Adrian Dix had little to say about the expenses, arguing that there isn’t enough information to make a fair critique.
Clark’s predecessor resigned in November 2011, Dix added, which could skew any comparison to the premier’s first year in office.
“I think we’ve got to be careful to make comparisons in the right years,” Dix said.
Other interesting expenses were charged in some of B.C.’s ministries, most notably in the Ministry of Forests, which billed $9.4 million in the last fiscal year.
Among the charges were a purchase for $1,750 to 1-800-MASCOTS, a more than $15,000 purchase to City Furniture in Merritt and three separate transactions at a Hooters restaurant in Edmonton for nearly $375.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development spent $6.8 million last year, but was able to explain a few major purchases, including a $1,999 bill at Chocoliro Finest Chocolate in Armstrong. The ministry says it was purchasing 120 gifts for foster parents.
They didn’t explain a $400 charge a Fluid Day Spa in Surrey, however, or two purchases totaling another $400 at Lululemon.
The government says the most eyebrow-raising transaction, a $301 charge to the Ashley Maddison website for married people seeking to start an affair, was a fraudulent charge that was subsequently reversed.
With reports from CTV British Columbia’s Ed Watson and Keri Adams