Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Another lobbyist fails to register

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I know I saw headlines like that last week and I did scan the story, but failed to see how much potential the story had.

First of all it was broken by a blogger – Sean Holman in 24 hours (one of those thin freesheets given out to commuters every weekday, and which I have had a hard time seeing as “real newspapers”). And also it came from an FOI request – not to the BC government but that of Washington State, who actually take FOI seriously and can produce complete sets of documents, unredacted, in days not months.

And that has lead to a piece by Michael Smyth in today’s Province which is unusually hard hitting.

[Patrick] Kinsella co-chaired the Liberal election campaign in 2001 and 2005. [Mark] Jiles was Campbell’s personal campaign manager in Vancouver-Point Grey.

Apparently this situated them perfectly to land lucrative government deals for their clients, Accenture being only one on a long list. [They got a big chunk of Hydro]

The Progressive Group — the company operated by Kinsella and Jiles — also helped Alcan land a sweet deal to expand its Kitimat smelter. It helped the B.C. Motion Picture Production Industry Association bag $65 million in provincial tax breaks. And on and on.

B.C. lobbyist registrar David Loukidelis is now investigating whether Kinsella and Jiles broke the rules by failing to publicly register as lobbyists while delivering all this government gravy to their undoubtedly delighted clients.

After several days of silence, the Progressive Group on Friday issued a written statement saying its activities did not constitute “lobbying” under the law in B.C.

Hmm. The dynamic duo brag in their resume that they were hired by the motion-picture association “to convince the provincial government to extend the foreign tax credits” to their clients.

If that’s not lobbying I’d like to know what is. I look forward to Loukidelis’s report.

Now we have already had a very similar case with former Translink CEO and Gordon Campbell’s go to guy, Ken Dobell, who managed to shrug off a finding that he had broken the law by insisting it was merely a technicality. An oversight.

The present case shows that this sense of entitlement to special favours seems to be endemic to BC Liberal insiders. And as Smyth reminds us

Campbell promised to end special deals for friends and insiders. He promised to run the most open and accountable government in Canada.

This case shows he has failed on both counts.

Which coming from the media group that has so far acted as Campbell’s cheering section is very refreshing indeed. The Liberals hold on power looks like it might be slipping. How many more of these scandals are going to surface before the election I wonder? Because something tells me that there are more to come, and a lot more journalists and bloggers are going to be hoping that they can emulate Sean Holman. The sharks can smell blood in the water.

Hat tip to Gudrun Langolf

Written by Stephen Rees

June 8, 2008 at 8:38 pm

Posted in politics

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