They can see us, they know exactly what’s going on, but for everyone else looking in- nothing. Nada. Zilch. Transparency? Jeez, I can see through my old jogging t-shirt better than I can see what’s going on inside Campbell’s regime.
So, you are probably asking, what’s new about that? We all know that he runs a closed door government, we know that it’s not likely to change anytime soon, but today’s news about the BC lobbyist registry is another stunning example of how Campbell and crew have given transparency an entirely new definition.
Imagine if the police had to get the consent of a criminal before investigating any wrong -doing. Really, just imagine it. The implications of how that would impact crime are enormous. So imagine how silly it seems that the B.C. Registrar of Lobbyists must get consent from an individual before he can investigate them further regarding lobbying activities. That is just what has happened with one of the BC liberal parties biggest players,(who also happens to be Gordon Campbells friend and ex-campaign manager), Patrick Kinsella.
Let me stop for a moment and explain what a lobbyist is, and what they do, for those of you who aren’t sure. A lobbyist is an individual, or company, that attempts to influence legislators and government officials to achieve a desired result on behalf of another individual or company ( this is what is called ‘lobbying’- ie: convincing, bugging, swaying,and in some cases perhaps,bribing… ). It might be to get a government contract, or change legislation to allow a certain business to operate differently, or to increase sales. They might achieve this through a proper visit to the office, or a fancy dinner at Hy’s. Regardless of how, or who, they are required to register all contacts and related business with the BC lobbyist registry. So one can see why there needs to be some transparency and accountability throughout the entire process.
Here’s an example. Coca-Cola Ltd. has employed a Lobbyist, Steven Van Der Wal,for the last two years to “Advance the interests of Coca-Cola in BC”. To see this report go to https://eservice.ag.gov.bc.ca/lra/public_reports.jsp . Click on ” Lobbying Activities by Organization“, click on Coca-Cola, and click on the “RUN” button.Now, to see who Steven has contacted, click on the
“View/Edit” button. When one looks at the rather lengthy list of government officials hes met with, its shocking, because hes even met with the Health ministry, as well as ministers in charge of the well-being of children and education. Lets all say together now… ” Lucrative Government Contracts” . Coca-cola has gone as far as funding research grants for obesity research, and given contributions to government campaigns over the years. This is why it is so important for accountability and governance in the lobbying process, so we the people know the real motivations and the real relationships behind government activities.
Back to Kinsella now, and what hes been up to. Back in June the Registrar of lobbyists received a complaint that Kinsella had lobbied without registering, and the registrar started looking into it. Apparently, Kinsella has been a very busy boy for quite some time, and it would certainly appear that he has been performing lobbyist duties without being registered. One of the companies that hired him freely says that Kinsella was hired to lobby for them. But he never registered as a lobbyist, and he claims the services he provided did not constitute lobbying under the act. He has written a letter back to the registrar saying that he does not consent to an investigation into the allegations made against him.
Kinsella himself has interesting ties to several political leaders and even backed Christy Clarks run for mayor in 2005. Hmmm, I’d love to hear her political insight on this entire matter. As a matter of record, Clark’s husband, Mark Marissen, who is also a lobbyist, has a very interesting history and current involvment within the Liberal party as well, highlighting how behind the scenes relationships become all the more pertinent during election time.
My, my my. What a trip, but here we are, again, back where we started- no transparency.
The way the legislation regarding lobbyists is written, the registrar does require consent from the subject of the investigation before he can proceed. If the subject doesn’t give consent, the issue may fall to the wayside, although the RCMP are still free to investigate. Wally Oppal even admits the legislation is faulty and needs to be re-written, but so, sorry, we cant right now- Gordon Campbell cancelled the fall session. And there wasn’t time to do it in the last session.
If this the kind of government we want to lead us for the next few years? The kind that will arbitrarily, in a seeming act of desperation, make a spur of the moment decision to stop taking tolls on the Coquihalla, without even telling the workers first? Screams of someone grappling at the edge of a cliff by their fingernails.
Now, when you have a moment, I urge all of you to go and have a look at the public reports available online through the BC Lobbyist Registry.
It’s free, and the list of lobbyists includes some notables within the Liberal Party, as well as some young Liberals. You can access them by lobbyist name, and you can see who they spoke to and how long they have been hired for. You can search by company, to see who they’ve hired and what they’ve been hired for. And let me tell you, when you think about all the government contracts being handed out, all the questionable legislation being created, and then you see the names and relationships behind them…. well, it’s enough to make you realise the public doesn’t know even half of it. It is the stuff movies are made of.
Be proactive this election. Find out what your local official really has done for you. And perhaps, more importantly… what they’ve done for someone else.