With 80 per cent of his company’s business serving municipal government, Todd Stone says he’s well aware of the conflict implications of entering provincial politics.
The founder, CEO and largest shareholder of iCompass Technologies — a Kamloops-based software company with 400 customers across North America — confirmed last week that he will seek the B.C. Liberal nomination in Kamloops-South Thompson.
Yet with a business portfolio so closely linked to government, Stone will have to tread carefully to abide by the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act.
The act stipulates that an MLA must not be involved in a decision during the course of public duties that might further his private interests.
“It is a consideration that anyone getting into public office has to cover off,” Stone said Wednesday in the midst of business meetings in Vancouver. He added it to his check list while pondering his run for the nomination.
“I’m working with a number of advisers — professional, legal and tax — to make sure we handle any trouble, if I’m elected, completely.”
Politicians have to avoid conflict of interest not only in substance but in appearance as well, he noted. Conflict rules don’t require business owners to divest themselves of their shares, but they must disclose all business assets, liabilities and financial interests to the office of the conflict of interest commissioner. They need to ensure their active involvement in business doesn’t in any way conflict with their public office responsibilities.
“Will I step aside if elected? Yes, I would have to step aside (as company president and CEO). Part of what we’re working on is a transition plan, a transition in the leadership of iCompass.”
His company, meanwhile, grew by 20 per cent last year and is expected to better that in 2012.
“It was a big decision to potentially step away from the business,” he said. He added that he has a “fantastic team” at iCompass in which he has full confidence.