CTV journalist Jon Woodward has revealed that a new tax may have elevated the value of Finance Minister Mike de Jong's real-estate investments.
Woodward reported that de Jong owns six apartment units in Abbotsford.
Last year, de Jong introduced a 15 percent foreign-buyers tax that only applied to Metro Vancouver and not to the Fraser Valley.
"Add in his Abbotsford home and his declared investment in real estate is just under $1 million, all just outside the zone where the tax applies," Woodward reported.
Fraser Valley Real Estate Board statistics indicate that home prices rose significantly higher than price increases reported by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.
Democracy Watch cofounder Duff Conacher told Woodward that de Jong should have recused himself from discussions on the foreign-buyers tax or sold his investment properties to avoid being in a conflict of interest.
De Jong, however, denied to CTV that he was in a conflict of interest.
It may all be a moot point because legislators, not the conflict of interest commissioner, determine the fate of politicians who may or may not have violated the Members' Conflict of Interest Act.
Earlier this year, a B.C. Supreme Court judge dismissed Democracy Watch's judicial-review application of two conflict of interest commissioner rulings clearing Premier Christy Clark of wrongdoing.
They were in connection with a $50,000 annual salary paid to Clark by the B.C. Liberals, which was funded by party donors.
Justice Kenneth Affleck concluded that under the legislation, Conflict of Interest Commissioner Paul Fraser can "do no more than conduct an inquiry; arrive at an opinion, and in the appropriate circumstance make a recommendation to the Legislative Assembly".
"It is then for the Legislature, not the Commissioner, if it chooses to do so to exercise discipline authority of its members," Affleck wrote in his ruling. "An opinion of the Commissioner has no legal consequence unless and until the Legislature acts on it."
Conacher said at the time that this ruling means the conflict commissioner's decisions are "unreviewable".
Democracy Watch has since filed an appeal of Affleck's ruling.
Fraser's son is the deputy minister of advanced education and oversees B.C. government communications and public engagement.