British Columbia NDP MLA Jenny Kwan is in the hot seat after it was publicly revealed that her family went on the $2,695 family trip to Disneyland paid by the Portland Hotel Society – the non-profit organization that operates the InSite supervised safe injection facility.
In a news conference earlier this afternoon, she also announced that her family was responsible for more expenses relating to trips to the United Kingdom, Bristol and Vienna. The expenses in total are:
Kwan has written a personal cheque to amounting to more than $34,000 to repay the Society. She will be taking an unpaid leave of absence to spend time with her family. The duration of her temporary leave is not known.
This comes after a provincial government review and independent audit of the Society’s expenses which unraveled a long list of highly questionable lavish expenses that are not part of the group’s mandate of supporting the homeless and drug addicts in the Downtown Eastside. The findings have determined that the Society spent tens of thousands of dollars on limousines, luxurious hotel rooms, lavish spending during ‘business trips’, a cruise, expensive dinners and much more including Kwan’s Disney trip.
The Mount Pleasant MLA has admitted that she went with her family on the Society-paid cruise, which consisted of her husband and children. In a released statement, she claims she had no prior knowledge that the trip would be charged to the Society, instead placing the blame on her former husband.
When asked why she did not question the expenses, she said, “I trusted him… in a relationship there is a element of trust.”
“Together with my family, I did join my husband, who was an employee of PHS on two trips in 2012, said Kwan on Thursday. “I was assured at the time by my former partner that he paid out of his pocket for the family portion of the travel expenses.”
“I never would have gone, had I known that the family portion of the travel would appear to have been paid for by PHS.”
In the aftermath of the revelations, leaders of the Portland Hotel Society have stepped aside and a new board will be put in place. They leave behind an organization that is in weak financial shape: it is more than $130,000 into its bank overdraft and drew $1.2-million from lines of credit and a business loan. According to the CBC, there were also allegations of gross misuse of corporate credit cards, unsupported expenses, and inadequate criminal record checks.
Featured Image: Jenny Kwan