Eric Foster remains under fire over office

Scrutiny is intensifying but Eric Foster continues to defend himself.

Scrutiny is intensifying but Eric Foster continues to defend himself.

The B.C. Conservatives want the provincial conflict of interest commissioner to revisit the Vernon-Monashee MLA leasing an office from the family of his executive assistant.

“If the conflict of interest commissioner thinks there is new information, he will do what he does. He will do his job,” said Foster.

“It’s been dealt with. The commissioner found that I’m not in a conflict of interest. I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Scott Anderson, local B.C. Conservative candidate, questions why Foster moved to a 31st Avenue building in 2009 when his predecessor, Tom Christensen, had  a constituency office on 30th Avenue.

“It was run down and in need of substantial renovation,” said Anderson.

Anderson claims $250,000 in renovations were done. Legislative documents have indicated the original bill submitted for the work was $78,000 but that was later reduced to $67,000.

“If the conflict of interest commissioner didn’t have all of the details of this transaction when he cleared Mr. Foster of a conflict of interest, we think he should reopen the case and we will ask him to do so,” said Anderson.

“If he did have all of the details and found no conflict of interest any way, then Mr. Foster’s actions are emblematic of a much larger problem with politics in B.C.”

Foster says he is getting tired of the Conservatives’ claims.

“The Conservatives don’t have policies they want to talk to. It’s just mud-slinging,” he said.

Foster says that when he was elected, he wanted an office with ground-floor access and parking and  Christensen’s office didn’t meet those requirements.

He insists the 31st Avenue site met his needs after looking at several options and his decision to lease was not influenced by ownership of the building.

“Tom’s office was higher-square-footage rent than mine and his renovations were being paid out of the same funds as mine,” said Foster.

“The only difference was mine was a separate line item (in constituency expenses).”

A Victoria area resident has asked B.C. Assessment to review the assessment of the 31st Avenue property based on the renovations, but Foster isn’t sure how he is involved in that matter.

“I have nothing to do with the assessment. I don’t own the building and I don’t pay the taxes,” he said.