Contradicting Wilkinson, the MLA said the plans fell through
BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson called claims a Liberal MLA offered private auto lobbyists ownership of a public Insurance Corporation of British Columbia training facility nonsense. Sadly, however, that MLA seems to have made his comments on video.
Wilkinson told CHNL Radio accusations Liberal MLA and former Transportation Minister Todd Stone tried to hand ownership and control of an ICBC-owned training facility to lobbyists was “just nonsense.”
A few days later, however, a video of Stone discussing handing the lobbyists “ownership and control” of the facility surfaced.
Stone’s comments first came to attention last Thursday, during a debate in the BC Legislature.
Attorney General David Eby accused Stone of telling lobbyists with the Automotive Retailers Association (a group representing the interests of BC’s aftermarket automotive industry), in 2015, the BC Liberals planned to hand-off a $3 million dollar training facility owned by ICBC.
In the video, Stone mentions an “ICBC training facility in Burnaby,” before being interrupted by a member of the audience who jokes “you’re giving it to us?”
Stone responds, in the video:
“I am pleased to announce that as part of this transition, I have directed ICBC to transfer their training facility from their ownership and control to the ownership and control of the ARA.”
The industry representatives can be heard gasping, before applauding Stone’s announcement.
Stone told Global News his ministry had been in talks with both ARA and the New Car Retailers Association about the proposed transfer. But, he said, the plan fell through due to legal difficulties.
“The number one principle we had going into that deal is that anything we do has to be in the best interest of ratepayers, in the best interest of ICBC,” Stone claimed.
This isn’t the first time the BC Liberals have been accused of allowing ARA members to take advantage of the province’s public insurance company.
Back in 2017, MoveUP, the union representing ICBC employees, accused ARA-represented firms of taking advantage of an express billing system introduced by the BC Liberals. The union claimed the system allowed auto-repair shops to over-bill ICBC, contributing to the crown corporation’s current financial troubles.
ARA denies the claim.
ARA also gave the BC Liberals $12,000 from 2014-2017.