B.C.’s conflict commissioner has been asked to get involved and rule on a perceived conflict of interest involving Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon.
The opposition Liberals today said they’ve sent a letter to Conflict of Interest Commissioner Paul D.K. Fraser regarding Kahlon being a member of an all-party ridesharing committee while Kahlon’s father owns a Bluebird cab in Victoria.
“This member serves on the Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations, which is shaping and influencing recommendations to the Legislative Assembly regarding ride-hailing— yet his father holds a taxi license with Bluebird Cabs in Victoria,” said Jordan Sturdy, Official Opposition Critic for Transportation in a news release. “This certainly seems inappropriate.”
“It’s disappointing that MLA Kahlon had to get caught in order to declare this conflict,” said Stephanie Cadieux, who serves as deputy chair of the committee. “The right thing for him to do would be to recuse himself from the committee, but it doesn’t appear he’s willing to do that.”
Kahlon denied being in a conflict of interest, noting all decisions will be made by the minister and cabinet.
On the Delta Optimist’s Facebook page, he explained, “I would like to be clear. This is a committee that is responsible for crown corporations. We have been asked to consult and make recommendations on ride hailing. I was on the last committee that recommended legislation to bring in ride hailing. Our committee does not decide the rules.”
He added, “The rules are decided by the Minster of Transportation and cabinet ministers. Our committee has 4 bc liberals 4 bc ndp members and 1 Green Party. MLA’s that are Landlords work on committees that talk about tenant rules. MLAs that own farms are on Agricultural committees. Since the committee has no actual power to change the law I believe there is no conflict of interest. That being said I have contacted the conflict commissioner and asked for his opinion in the matter.”
Individuals elected to the provincial legislature and members of Executive Council are subject to the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act. The primary purpose of the act is to ensure that members do not use elected office to further their private interest. The Conflict of Interest Commissioner’s office explains “a conflict of interest arises when a Member has the opportunity to further his or her private interest through the performance of his or her official duties. An apparent conflict of interest arises when there is a reasonable perception that a Member’s ability to perform his or her official duties must have been or would be affected by his or her private interest.”