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BURNABYBC Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon has appointed a screening panel to hand pick who gets nominated for the new Translink board—but he’s hushing up the announcement to circumvent the democratic process and avoid scrutiny for the panel’s overwhelming business bias, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“Translink was advised of the appointments late last week, but the Ministry of Transportation issued no press release,” notes CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill, commenting on an advisory to Translink directors and municipalities.

“Given that Bill 36, the legislative overhaul of Translink, hasn’t even passed through final reading in the legislature, it’s outrageous that Minister Falcon would try to keep this announcement under the radar. British Columbians deserve to know how local government autonomy and accountability are being brushed aside for the sake of the Campbell Liberals’ corporate business agenda.”

The five men appointed to the panel are Vancouver Board of Trade governor Graham Clarke, Vancouver Board of Trade economist emeritus Dave Park, Greater Vancouver Gateway Council managing director Bob Wilds, FMG Financial Mentors Group president Hugh Lindsay and former BC premier Mike Harcourt.

All except Harcourt—the former provincial New Democratic Party leader known for his interest in environmental and urban sustainability issues—are strongly identified with the Vancouver Board of Trade and business interests.

“It’s important to remember that the Translink board has the authority to recommend tax increases, and to make decisions about capital investments, operating systems and services in the region,” says O’Neill.

“This is why we have elected officials. But Bill 36 would prevent democratically elected mayors or councillors from serving on the Translink board. And this screening panel, which is not even a legal entity, has the authority to recommend board members before Bill 36 has even gone through the legislature. How does that serve democracy?”