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Minister Josie Osborne denies allegations of conflict of interest

B.C. The Liberal Party has asked Victoria Gray, Commissioner of Conflict of Interest, to investigate whether there is a conflict regarding Josie Osborne.

Land, Water and Resource Stewardship Minister Josie Osborne.
Minister of Land, Water and Resources Josie Osborne. Photo: CHAD HIPOLITO/Canadian news agency

Faced with allegations of conflict of interest, Land The office of Minister of Water Resources, Josie Osborne, provided a timeline showing that she was not involved in the decision to approve a $ 15 million grant to a nonprofit organization that purchased her husband's investment property. did.

In April, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism will provide a $ 15 million Stewardship Fund to the MakeWayCharitable Society, formerly known as Tides Canada, to adjust the basin. Announced. A restoration project led or co-led by First Nations.

According to land ownership documents, Osborne's husband, George Patterson, sold the Tofino Botanical Garden to the MakeWay Charity Association on September 17, 2021 for $ 2.3 million. The 12-acre waterfront property on the Pacific Rim Highway was initially listed for $ 3.75 million.

B.C. The liberals asked Victoria Gray, the Commissioner of Conflict of Interest, to investigate whether there was a conflict. They claim that the optical system is not good.

"British Columbia citizens did not participate in the awarding of $ 15 million in real estate purchases, or MakeWay used this purchase to affect the minister's office. How can you be sure? ”Lone Dokson, British Columbia A liberal critic of land, water and resource management asked in a statement.

However, Osborne's office said it did not participate in the decision to select MakeWay as the group to manage the funding of healthy watershed initiatives. This decision was made when the program fell under the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, before the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism was established in February.

After taking charge of the new ministry, Osborne set up a screen with the Deputy Minister and rejected her decision on MakeWay.

"This is in line with public service processes to prevent and manage potential or perceived conflicts of interest," her ministry said.

Osborne was unable to respond to the interview, but her ministry stated in a statement that the B.C. free complaint was "inaccurate" and needed to resolve the issue quickly. That's what she contacted the commissioner to provide all the information.

A public interest disclosure statement filed by Osborne on November 26, 2021 states that her spouse has consulted / contracted with the MakeWay Foundation. The Foundation is a national charity with the mission of "prospering together with nature and the community." It turned the botanical garden into an indigenous protected area and an innovation center.

When the sale of the land was announced, Patterson told local media that he would continue to advise for three years.

Osborne was one of the ministers lobbying from MakeWay on nature maintenance and forestry issues in April.

Osborne, a marine biologist elected to represent the Midshima Pacific Rim in 2020, is the former mayor of Tofino.

Commissioner Gray did not comment on the allegations, but her office said in her statement, "Determine what steps are needed in the future and proceed accordingly." Stated.

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