THE NDP said on Wednesday that former BC cabinet minister Kevin Falcon and interim BC Liberal Leader Shirley Bond need to answer for allegations that their campaigns misused a publicly-funded addictions rehabilitation centre for partisan political gain.
Yesterday, Business In Vancouver posted an explosive investigative report that residents of the Baldy Hughes Therapeutic Community were forced by a former BC Liberal staffer to make calls for Falcon’s failed leadership campaign in 2011, and also made phone calls on behalf of Bond’s re-election efforts.
According to the report:
- The BC Liberals gave the facility millions, including Falcon and Bond personally delivering a $500,000 cheque in July 2010.
- In the subsequent BC Liberal leadership campaign, Falcon campaigned at the facility and was introduced as “the next Liberal leader,” according to a former employee.
- The employee says that executive director Marshall Smith provided residents with BC Liberal phone lists and forced them to call on behalf of Falcon.
- Smith was forced out of his position just days after Falcon lost the leadership vote.
- A former resident told Business in Vancouver that he also made political calls on behalf of Bond.
- It’s not known if Bond attended the facility with Falcon during the leadership race.
Aman Singh, MLA for Richmond-Queensborough, said: “It’s disturbing that the BC Liberals would use residents in a publicly-funded recovery facility for their own re-election. Instead of ensuring every dollar goes into addictions supports, we’ve heard that facility staff were campaigning for the BC Liberals. Kevin Falcon and Shirley Bond should publicly disclose everything they know about this situation and explain why they think it’s ok to use public funds for partisan gain.”
SHIRLEY BOND’S REACTION:
Bond said in a statement:
“I have been a passionate supporter and advocate for countless organizations in my community, including the Baldy Hughes Treatment Centre.
“My connection to Baldy Hughes is, and always has been, about getting people the help they so desperately need by providing an important pathway to treatment and recovery for addictions. I make no apologies for supporting the Baldy Hughes residents, many of whom were at the lowest point in their lives.
“Baldy Hughes means a great deal to me. I’ve spent many hours at graduation ceremonies, gratitude circles, attending events, visiting their garden, and being part of a program to provide Christmas stockings to each resident. I’ve witnessed firsthand the difference it makes and getting to know residents who have had their lives turned around by the opportunities Baldy Hughes gave them.
“It should come as no surprise that people in my community, myself included, wanted to support a facility that provides hope to men struggling with addictions.
“The people that know me, know that I would never accept or allow anyone to be coerced into supporting a political candidate. I have served my community for almost three decades in public office, and I’ve been lucky that every time I put my name on a ballot, hundreds of people from all walks of life have volunteered on my behalf and I am grateful for that.
“Government’s job is to provide funding for a range of treatment options for those facing mental health and addictions issues in our province. I advocated for Baldy Hughes ten years ago and will continue to advocate for new resources for mental health and addictions throughout the province today.”