Cache Creek’s mayor is raising questions about a possible conflict of interest by a Lower Mainland politician who headed a waste management committee.
Ranta raised the issue with reporters Wednesday, after website integritybc.ca highlighted corporate contributions by waste management firms to incumbent Port Coquitlam mayor Greg Moore’s election campaign in November last year.
“He chaired the (Metro Vancouver) waste management committee at the time,” noted Ranta.
Cache Creek’s mayor has waged a futile campaign to convince Metro Vancouver to continue sending its waste to his village’s landfill. Operator Wastech has developed an extension that would allow it to continue importing waste from the south for decades.
But Metro Vancouver politicians years ago settled on development of waste-to-energy plants that would not require landfills.
According to Moore’s disclosure documents available on the municipality’s website, contributors to his campaign include Covanta Burnaby Renewable Energy Inc., Emterra and Robanco.
Robanco is a landfill located in Washington State, which accepts waste from Canada. Covanta operates a historic garbage incineration plant in Burnaby. Emterra is a recycling firm.
“How can Greg Moore be objective in chairing the regional district committee when they’re making decisions on waste management if he’s accepting contributions from waste management companies like Robanco and Covanta?” Ranta asked.
Reached Wednesday, Moore said he’s been above board and doesn’t believe contributions sway him because he doesn’t personally benefit.
“In my mind, it’s no different than when local politicians accept contributions from a local developer or union or company in their community… . With a solid waste decision or rezoning or a CUPE contract, I have nothing monetarily to gain.”
Moore also said the committee made no substantive decisions between the election and a month later, when he was no longer chair. Whether under him or any other chairmen, Metro Vancouver has consistently moved toward waste to energy and recycling — and away from landfilling.
“This is really about Mr. Ranta trying to throw off where Metro Vancouver is going,” he charged.
Norman Ruff, political scientist emeritus at University of Victoria, said there is nothing illegal in what the companies did.
“Presumably they’re trying to ensure they’re listened to… . They’re trying to catch people’s ears.”
Integrity B.C. is pushing for electoral reform that would ban company or union donations to local and provincial politicians. Ruff said in absence of those rules, the current system at least allows transparency.
“You leave people to draw their own conclusions. That’s what we’re doing here. You can’t help but feel uneasy. It points out the need for tighter controls on campaign financing.”
Moore said he spent $30,000 on his most recent campaign and $45,000 on an earlier one, money that would be hard to raise from individuals alone.
“It does cost quite a bit of money to run a campaign in an urban area.”
Ranta said he has never been offered contributions from Wastech, a private B.C. firm which operates the Cache Creek landfill. Under the current rules “some foreign company can provide funds to influence the outcome of an election.”