The BC Ministry of Environment has set up a scheme which uses recycling regulation to compel business people to pay over 100 million dollars annually to a corporation that is outside of public accountability mechanisms. The corporation is called MMBC, and is run by three people, two of whom are Vice-Presidents of Loblaws and Unilever respectively.
It is a matter of grave public concern when significant funds are collected through regulatory authority but are diverted outside of the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act, the Financial Administration Act and the Auditor General Act.
Last month I laid out my concerns in detail to the Auditor General in a four page letter. My position has been endorsed by successful business-people across industry sectors and across the province, including Mr. Kelvin McCullloch. Mr McCulloch is a former forensic auditor and current Chairman of the Board and CEO of Buckerfields, an award-winning BC
business with eight stores, over 110 employees and annual sales receipts above twenty million dollars.
We all understand that the BC Liberal Government's scheme should trigger action by the Auditor General because it is consistent with other attempts to funnel taxpayer funds outside of public accountability mechanisms that were eventually found to be illegal. The sponsorship scandal in Ottawa and the McKim advertising scandal in BC are just two examples.
The fact that the government has chosen to shield MMBC from formal and direct Auditor General review does not prevent the Auditor General from investigating and reporting on the concerns raised in my letter. In fact, the Auditor General has a mandate to do exactly as requested, as per Sections 12 and 13 of the Auditor General Act.
If the Auditor General does not call out the government for this scheme, it is reasonable to expect the government will replicate it in other areas. An public airing of this scheme is necessary in order to protect a key principle of good governance: namely, that the spending of funds collected through the authority of government must be subject to public oversight.
Subsequent to this May 1 letter, the Auditor General's Office has responded with several emails and a one hour face-to-face meeting with the Interim Auditor General and the Executive Director of the Auditor General's Office. I look forward to developments once the newly appointed Auditor General is active.
I am continuing to work actively with businesses and concerned taxpayers on this issue. In addition to my work with the Auditor General, I am advancing this file through my participation in the BC Legislative Standing Committee on Finance and through other mechanisms.
Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South.
Background, other recent statements by me on this issue:
May 24, 2014
Over the past few months I've raised many objections to this program, both within the Legislature and in meetings and correspondence with constituents, business-people, Chambers of Commerce, municipalities, MMBC, and ...
Apr 30, 2014
MMBC is a dummy corporation registered under the Society Act as a non-profit. It is in fact run by Ontario-based Vice Presidents of Unilever and Loblaws and it lacks basic financial accountability mechanisms. Nevertheless ...
Mar 30, 2014
My investigation was the first to uncover that this "non-profit" "BC" "Society", MMBC, is in fact controlled by just three directors, two of whom do not live in BC and are Vice-Presidents of large corporations (Unilever and ...