No sooner had he resigned his seat as a politician, former premier John Horgan announced he will be joining the board of a coal company.
I suppose a lot of us will find nothing wrong with that.
But I do.
Here’s the deal. When our leaders and bureaucrats leave the public service to immediately take plum jobs with large multinational corporations they had influence over, it makes me wonder who they were working for while they were in office.
We the people? Or they the multinational corporations?
I had the same concerns when former chief forester Dianne Nichols left the public service to work for Drax, a multinational pellet company whose industry Nichols advocated for while a public servant.
It’s a clear conflict of interest, it’s unethical, and it should be illegal.
If you actually worked for the people, I can guarantee you the corporate sector wouldn’t want to touch you with a ten foot pole.
If Dianne Nichols actually managed our forests for our communities and the health of our forests and wildlife, she would be a pariah down at the Council of Forest Industries. That’s because the public interest is served by standing up to the global monopolies running roughshod over our forests and communities. She should have questioned glyphosate spraying. Instead she commissioned a crooked report justifying it. She should have required more selective logging, changed stocking standards, and supported a myriad of other policies.
Instead, she ensured the maximum cuts so the corporations could earn the maximum profits.
But maybe that was the point.
Maybe the point is not to serve the public of British Columbia. After all, they won’t give you that six figure salary when you quit on them. The companies you regulated will, however. Better kiss up to them while collecting that publicly-funded paycheck.
It’s the same deal with John Horgan.
Had he seen the writing on the wall- the growing void between the wealthy and the poor, the reckless exploitation of our forests, the housing crisis, the failure of our railroad network, the cross-border pollution impacts of the coal company he now works for, all of which are the direct result of the pendulum swinging too far in favour of big money, he would have pulled a Dave Barrett special like it was 1972.
He did the opposite.
We’ve basically had the same corporate-captured government since 2001. And I guess maybe now we know why.
I would say we get what we deserve, but I don’t think that would be fair. I think a lot of times we are sold a bill of goods. John Horgan was supposedly the greatest premier to ever walk the face of British Columbia. He probably believes it. We probably believed it. But like they say, when someone shows you who they are, you should believe that instead.
James Steidle is a Prince George writer.