Two federal Conservative cabinet ministers were criss-crossing Metro Vancouver on the first weekend of April. Touting the party, pressing the flesh, passing the hat, and avoiding the media.
Treasury Board president Tony Clement and Minister of Employment, Social Development and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney do not appear to have crossed paths; if they did, they certainly didn’t Tweet about it. Only Kenney’s appearance in Whistler at the Canadian Home Builders’ Association convention was disclosed in advance to media on the government’s media advisories website.
I spotted Kenney arrive at the private Terminal City Club for a 4 p.m. meeting with the Canada Korea Foundation, a Tory-friendly foundation in name only that was created with the help of his former chief of staff, Tenzin D. Khangsar. A B.C. Supreme Court trial is scheduled to begin April 22 as CKF co-founder John Park is suing the other two founders to get his $50,000 donation back. Khangsar is on the witnesses list. Read all about the troubled CKF in my Tyee story here.
Arriving before Kenney was Sen. Yonah Martin, an appointee by Prime Minister Stephen Harper who was, until November, a co-patron of CKF. Arriving after Kenney was Ralph Sultan, the BC Liberal MLA for West Vancouver-Capilano.
Park hired Khangsar to be managing director of his RCI Capital investment bank after the Tories were re-elected in 2011. RCI’s board includes retired Conservative MPs Stockwell Day and John Reynolds. Day represented RCI on last fall’s trade mission led by Premier Christy Clark to China, where RCI brokered a memorandum of understanding about B.C. wood pellets. Khangsar, however, has departed the RCI fold, but he has not responded for comment. In December, Khangsar was named by Premier Christy Clark as the chair of the B.C. Multicultural Advisory Council.
Over the weekend, Kenney Tweeted about visiting a Tibetan monastery in Vancouver where he welcomed recent immigrants from Tibet. He dropped by the cenotaph in Victory Square for a ceremony to mark Canada’s heroism and sacrifice at Vimy Ridge and visited with the local Ukrainian community. And, of course, he spoke with Conservative party faithful in Vancouver.
Clement Tweeted about visiting Fleetwood-Port Kells MP Nina Grewal in Surrey, meeting with unnamed small business leaders in Vancouver, appearing with the Canada-India Business Council and talking to Conservative members at Trinity Western University and in Surrey.
While both were fundraising and rallying the troops for the 2015 election, a source tells me they were also continuing to test the waters for potential runs to someday succeed Harper as party leader.
How much, if anything, their trips cost taxpayers is not yet known. The Broadbent Institute-backed PressProgress noted that Kenney has traveled extensively to conduct party business on the taxpayer dime.
Meanwhile, in North Van
Abindgon Research was conducting a telephone poll on April 4 in North Vancouver, gauging opinions of North Vancouver District councillors Mike Little and Roger Bassam and incumbent Tory MP Andrew Saxton.
Abindgon chief research officer is Hamish Marshall, a former Harper aide and researcher for the party in the 2008 election.