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15 YEARS AGO… (Aug. 7-13, 1996)

Premier wants Hydro out of Pakistan power project

As the RCMP widened its investigation into B.C. Hydro's involvement in the controversial Raiwind power project in Pakistan this week, Premier Glen Clark urged the Crown corporation to cut its ties with the scandal-plagued venture.

"We may pull out of the deal," Mr. Clark said. "My preference is to get out of it."

B.C. Hydro owns 15 per cent of Southern Electric Power Company Ltd. (SEPCOL), a Pakistani company that is responsible for developing Raiwind. However, Hydro chair Brian Smith warned that walking away from the partnership could trigger a multimillion-dollar legal battle.

In April, the government appointed a special prosecutor to investigate former B.C. Hydro chair John Laxton and former CEO John Sheehan, who resigned in February when it was revealed they had made personal investments in the Raiwind deal.

RCMP said this week they are also investigating why Pakistani businessman Ali Mahmood, SEPCOL's CEO, received $300,000 worth of shares in International Power Corporation, a Cayman-Island-based company that holds controlling interest in the project.

Flash forward: In 1999, B.C. Hydro sold its stake in the Raiwind project for $2.4-million, about $7-million less than the Crown corporation's initial investment. No criminal charges were brought against Mr. Laxton or Mr. Sheehan.

25 YEARS AGO… (Aug. 7-13, 1986)

Vander Zalm faces exodus of cabinet ministers

Agriculture Minister Jack Heinrich and Small Business Development Minister Bob McLelland resigned from cabinet Monday, bringing to four the number of veteran ministers who have jumped ship since Bill Vander Zalm won the Social Credit leadership race two weeks ago.

Mr. Heinrich, who supported Attorney-General Brian Smith in the leadership race, said he was planning to resign regardless of the outcome.

Hours earlier, Mr. McLelland announced that he is retiring from politics to "seek new career opportunities." His political stock tumbled last year following revelations that he used his government credit card at a Victoria escort agency.

Agriculture Minister Tom Waterland quit cabinet last week to become president of the B.C. Mining Association. Mr. Waterland resigned as forest minister in January after it was discovered that he held a $20,000 stake in a government-owned pulp company.

Bill Ritchie stepped down as municipal affair minister last week, citing differences with Mr. Vander Zalm on issues such as labour reform and employee profit sharing.

Flash forward: After winning the provincial election in October, 1986, Mr. Vander Zalm named five rookie MLAs to cabinet and reappointed just six of the 18 ministers he inherited from former premier Bill Bennett.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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