B.C. United calls firing of Utilities Commission CEO David Morton ‘drastic move’

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The B.C. United party is denouncing the NDP’s recent firing of Utilities Commission CEO David Morton, calling it “a drastic move” ahead of an election.

Premier David Eby announced Thursday that Mark Jaccard had been appointed chairman and CEO of the commission, effective immediately.

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Jaccard, who previously served as the chairman and CEO of the BCUC from 1992 to 1997, is a professor at Simon Fraser University. Jaccard takes over from Morton, who served as chairman of the BCUC since his appointment in 2015.

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Tom Shypitka, B.C. United MLA for Kootenay East, responded to the decision by accusing the government of appointing an NDP supporter on the panel before the election.

“The firing of BCUC CEO and board chair David Morton is a drastic move by this NDP government to politicize the panel ahead of the next election, similar to their reckless political interference of B.C. Ferries that only resulted in further chaos and inefficiency,” said Shypitka in a statement.

He said Morton still had more than a year left on his mandate and should have been in that role until December 2024, adding that he’s concerned Jaccard will continue to criticize LNG projects and “take every chance to kill good-paying jobs for British Columbians.”

Jaccard has worked previously for the B.C. Liberal and federal Conservative governments. He served on a national roundtable on the environment and the economy in 2006, appointed by the Conservative government under then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He also served on B.C.’s climate action team under former Liberal premier Gordon Campbell.

In a news release Thursday, Eby gave no reason for Morton’s departure, but acknowledged him as one of the longest serving chairs of the BCUC, who has “diligently worked to ensure proper oversight of B.C.’s utilities.”

Eby said Jaccard is someone who has deep experience and knowledge of sustainable energy policies, and will “rise to the urgent challenge of climate change by growing B.C.’s clean economy.”

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