I may have left the impression in recent blog postings that Vancouver Sun provincial-affairs columnist Vaughn Palmer only speaks to business organizations like the Council of Forest Industries, British Columbians for Private Forests, the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, the B.C. Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association, the B.C. Human Resources Management Association, the Council of Tourism Associations of B.C., and others.
Palmer has also spoken to government associations as well as to civic and labour groups. The include the Professional Employees Association, the Bellingham City Club, and the Canadian Association of Members of Public Utility Tribunals.
Next month, Palmer will speak to the Lower Mainland Local Government Association.
And no, Palmer didn’t contact me to ask me to set the record straight. I just started poking around on Google.
I also discovered that he spoke to the B.C. Nurses’ Union in February. He praised the group in his speech, according to the union newsletter.
The following month, Palmer wrote a column about how the B.C. Liberal government is enlisting the help of the nurses’ union “in a collaborative effort to improve management of the health care system, including patient care, workplace safety, staffing and recruitment”.
This might not seem like a big deal to most people. But I thought it was important to mention that Palmer doesn’t only speak to business organizations because he also makes himself available to other groups, presumably for a fee on at least some of these occasions.
I first became aware of Palmer's public-speaking career when he was listed in the program of a tourism conference I was covering in 2005.
I went to the conference for a feature story on convention-centre cost overruns. At the time, I was surprised to see Palmer's name on the speakers’ list.
Today, Palmer wrote a column detailing how much costs have increased on the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre expansion, so it's not as if he has ignored this issue.
I’ll leave it up to Palmer and other members of the press gallery if they want to disclose to the public how much they’re paid for their individual speaking engagements. I, for one, am curious to know the answer.
If members of the press gallery are collecting thousands of dollars per speaking engagement to business groups interested in legislative changes—and I have no proof of this other than Palmer's agent's claim in the past that Palmer charges $3,000 to $5,000 per speech—then I think they owe it to their readers, viewers, and listeners to come clean on this.