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INSIDE: Two-sport stars hoping to shine this basketball season Pg. 12 T H U R S D A Y January 10, 2013 Comedy Show returns 18 Ultimate  N E W S , SPORTS, WEATHER & E N T E R T A I N M E N T  NDP hopeful given ultimatum BY PAUL J. HENDERSON T he Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce has clarified its position with regard to an order that executive director Patti MacAhonic should resign if she wins the NDP nomination for the May provincial election. But MacAhonic will still likely have to quit her job. Just before she announced her intention to run for the NDP on Monday, the Chamber issued a press release that said MacAhonic would be asked to tender her resignation if she wins the nomination. A second Chamber release, issued Chamber clarifies position on executive director’s job, but decision still gives MacAhonic little choice Wednesday afternoon, attempted to clarify that position. “The Chamber will fully comply with all provisions of the British Columbia Election Act if leave is requested under s. 67 of that statute,” the release stated. “The Chamber is a non-sectarian and apolitical organization working on behalf of its members first and has no affiliation with any political party.” Section 67 states that employers are required to grant leave to employees running in elections. School district mum on ministry response BY CORNELIA NAYLOR T he Chilliwack school board is being tight-lipped about its response to a ministry of education request for B.C. school boards to find savings to pay for salary increases for support staff. In a Dec. 3 letter, Education Minister Don McRae asked all B.C. boards to find savings of 1.5 per cent in this year’s budget and another 1.5 per cent in next year’s. The letter stipulates that the savings must not negatively impact educational programs or transfer costs to the public. At its last board meeting of 2012, the Chilliwack board voted to add a special public meeting to its schedule Jan. 14 to discuss ways to address the minister’s request, which would cost about $300,000 in the first year. At an in camera meeting on Jan. 7, however, trustees voted to cancel that meeting and communicate with the minister of education in writing, according to superintendent Evelyn Novak. She said the board originally voted to meet publicly to discuss the issue because it appeared to be a budget item but decided to deal with it in camera after deciding it was a collective bargaining issue. At the in camera meeting, the board directed staff to craft a response to the minister, Novak said, but she wouldn’t elaborate on whether the Chilliwack board had found the savings or decided to join other B.C. boards and the B.C. School Trustees’ Association, who have written letters opposing the minister’s request. “I will leave it to the board to respond to that,” Novak said. “I don’t know whether or not it’s going to be shared at the [Jan. 22] public meeting. All I can say is the board has responded via letter to the minister.” However, board chair Louise Piper, a City of Chilliwack CUPE employee, told the Times she had removed herself from the discussion because of a conflict of interest, and vice-chair Walt Krahn emailed the Times to say he would be unavailable to answer questions until Sunday because he is teaching in Prince George. However, the law only applies once the writ has been dropped, which would be April 16 to May 14. “You don’t become a candidate until the election period,” Don Main of Elections BC explained. Given the amount of work candidates have to do in the lead-up to an election, MacAhonic asked the board for a longer leave. She told the Times Wednesday that she was given an ultimatum by Chamber board president Kevin Gemmell to resign by 1 p.m. that day or the Chamber would issue its release. “I feel like I’m being pushed,” she said. MacAhonic called the decision a double standard since at least two directors did not step away from the Chamber while working on election campaigns in the Chilliwack-Hope byelection last April. Director Joe Bruno served as BC Liberal candidate Laurie Throness’s financial agent for the byelection, and director Jack van Dongen volunteered on BC Conservative candidate John Martin’s campaign. “I’m the only one that has been asked to resign,” MacAhonic said. “I just thought it was a double standard.” The Chamber’s policy manual states: “Employees and Directors who wish to engage in work for a political candidate or run for public office must resign (or take an approved leave of absence) from the Chamber before doing so.” W h e n a s k e d by t h e Ti m e s Wednesday, Gemmell refused to comment on MacAhonic’s situation nor would he comment on the perception of a double standard regarding Bruno or van Dongen. The Chamber’s release did say the decision was purely related to See MACAHONIC, Page 3 PARAMOUNT ALL-WEATHER GAWKERS Tyler Olsen/TIMES Clint Adams takes a photo of the ongoing deconstruction of Chilliwack’s Paramount Theatre. A hole in the side of the building allows for a look inside the hollowed-out innards of the downtown landmark. Plumbing Service Department WWW.OCONNORGROUP.COM 06198229 8645 Young Street, Chilliwack 604-792-5151 FREE 143 PT pre-owned inspection and one year membership! only at 604-792-2754 DL#5952 02124924 Price 60¢

Chilliwack Times January 10 2012

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