Saturday, June 24, 2006

 

The Honourable Gary Collins ... while still B.C. Minister of Finance

[In those tense Legislative debates over two years ago, when 77 Liberals faced a two-woman NDP Opposition, the dauntless Joy MacPhail continued questioning Gary Collins about his links, if any, to Erik Bornman, a partner and Lobbyist for Pilothouse, who allegedly paid Dave Basi to influence the sale of B.C. Rail in his client's favour. Bornman is a name to remember, if ever Dave Basi comes to trial as a result of the police raids on the B.C. Legislature.]


           Joy MacPhail: Mr. Chair, I want to go now to…. This arises out of question period today. I want to look at the lobbyist registration website, please. The minister has said that he never met with Mr. Bornman. I'm sure every single lobbyist in the province is now saying, "Oh God, I hope she doesn't explore this any further," because of course, lobbyists bill on the basis of their connections, on their access, their ability to get access to government ...

Somebody's billing clients a lot of money for their lobbying activities. The one example I asked the minister about today, Erik Bornman — he said he hadn't met with him. Let's see in what other areas Mr. Bornman claims he was going to meet with and billed his client for access…. Mr. Bornman is down as saying that he met with the minister ...

           The Certified General Accountants Association was a client of Mr. Bornman, and he claims there were two people he was going to lobby. This minister was one.

            Hon. G. Collins: As I said, I've never met with Mr. Bornman, certainly since we were elected ...
          
            J. MacPhail: Erik Bornman claimed he is lobbying the Minister of Finance on behalf of Cap Gemini Ernst and Young. In fact, it was either the Premier or the Minister of Finance that Mr. Bornman was dealing with on that file…. Was it the Minister of Finance on that?

            Hon. G. Collins: I may well have met with Cap Gemini. In fact, as I think back, I may well have. I think they're a firm that's well known. But certainly, as I said earlier, I've not met with Erik Bornman on any matter ...
 
          J. MacPhail: ... I don't deny that the minister is telling the truth. I assume he is telling the truth. Except it is interesting that all these people are making big bucks off the grind of politics in this government and it's simply, according to the Minister of Finance, to get a meeting that they don't attend ...

           Let me ask the minister. Pilothouse, Brian Kieran's firm, is registered as a lobbyist for this minister in particular. Has he ever met with anyone at Pilothouse?

            Hon. G. Collins: First of all, if the member has a concern with how the industry works, she should take it up with the industry, not me.

            J. MacPhail: I'm about to.

            Hon. G. Collins: Yeah. People can come and ask for meetings with me anytime they want. They don't need to go through anybody ... Now, in response to her specific question, Pilothouse I think is the same company she talked about earlier that Erik Bornman was part of. My understanding is that was the same. Brian Kieran was one partner and Erik Bornman was the other. To answer her question, I don't recall ever meeting with Brian Kieran on an issue either.

            J. MacPhail: Oh, I understand this is as much about the lobbying firms that grease the skids of government, particularly the Liberal Party — sorry, not the skids….

Point of Order

            Hon. G. Collins: Point of order, Mr. Chairman. Those are pretty severe accusations the member makes, and I think she should be very careful about making them.

            J. MacPhail: What point of order is that?

            Hon. G. Collins: Well, it's unparliamentary.

            J. MacPhail: No, it isn't.

            Hon. G. Collins: It is, Mr. Chairman, and I think if you check the record….

           J. MacPhail: Tell me what part is unparliamentary.

           The Chair: Would the member mind going through the Chair? The minister is going through the Chair, and the member will wait to go through the Chair.

            Hon. G. Collins: The member's comments are out of line when she talks of greasing the skids of the party or otherwise. That is a pretty serious allegation, and she should be careful about it.

           The Chair: If the member wouldn't mind being very careful about her parliamentary language, it would help the Chair.

Debate Continued

            J. MacPhail: Absolutely, Mr. Chair. I'm well aware of my parliamentary language. Just because he doesn't like the accusation, doesn't make it unparliamentary, I would say.

           These are big donors to the Liberal Party. That's public information. Somehow this government likes to distinguish itself…. I mean, what a day for the Minister of Finance to stand up and claim himself to be pure and say that others should watch out — a pretty rotten day for him to try to make that challenge.
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Full record: http:www.legis.gov.bc.ca/Hansard/37th5th/h40303p.htm

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Comments:
After Collins says that he had never met with Eric Bornman, Joy MacPhail then asks him if he had ever met with anyone from Pilothouse.

Collins doesn't exactly answer the exact question MacPhail posed. He says he can't recall ever meeting with Brian Kiernan. But there was another partner in Pilothouse - Jamie Elmhirst, a high profile former Young BC Liberal, now the current president of The Liberal Party of Canada in BC.

Bill Tieleman on Eric Bornman:

"Bornman earned his nickname Spiderman after he entered a locked federal Liberal Party office – which contained the BC membership list during the time of the leadership battle between Paul Martin and Jean Chretien – through the ceiling.

In 1999, Bornman helped organize a federal Young Liberal convention in Victoria’s Traveller's Inn that turned into a drunken hotel-trashing. The party was sued for $10,000 in damages by owner John Asfar but he settled out of court.

Surprisingly, in 2003 Bornman was listed as the registered lobbyist for Asfar's efforts to locate a casino in a Victoria hotel.

But in an email to me last year after I reported on Bornman’s lobbying record, Asfar claimed that Bornman never lobbied government on behalf of his company.

“Secondly, Eric Bowman [sic] has never lobbied for me or any of my related companies with Government! Not once!!! He was hired by our company to introduce us to a private casino operator in Wells, BC (The Jack O’ clubs Casino operation). ….,” Asfar wrote on March 18, 2004. “He [Bornman] prematurely and proactively registered my company and his company without our consent or any contractual agreement. He was forward marketing himself and anticipated presumptuously that our relationship would expand if he was successful in the introducing us to the casino owners.”
 
Lynx: thanks for the timely reminder. So, yeah ... Jamie Elmhirst ...

From Sean Holman's March '06 Public Eye Online:

Fascinating news from the lobby firm formerly known as Pilothouse Public Affairs Inc.: late last week, the company circulated an email to friends and associates announcing it has "embarked on an internal transition that will mark the beginning of Brian Kieran's preparation for inevitable retirement from government relations...It is our intention that he will remain fully engaged helping his current clients. Jamie Elmhirst will now assume the mantle of senior partner at K&E Public Affairs effective April 1, 2006." The following is a complete copy of that email, which we provide with this reminder: it was sent out prior to British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett's Monday ruling that search warrant documents connected with police raid on the legislature should be made public.


From: Brian Kieran
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2006 07:38:03 -0800
To: Brian Kieran
Subject: K&E Update

Friends and Associates:

K&E Public Affairs has embarked on an internal transition that will mark the beginning of Brian Kieran's preparation for inevitable retirement from government relations. After three decades in journalism and one decade in GR, Brian will be spending slightly less time in the office. It is our intention that he will remain fully engaged helping his current clients.

Jamie Elmhirst will now assume the mantle of senior partner at K&E Public Affairs effective April 1, 2006.

This transition also provides an opportunity for our associate Josh Christensen, who has been invaluable in a support capacity, to begin to assume more responsibility for direct client interaction.

Jamie Elmhirst & Brian Kieran

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As for Erik Bornman, didn't he go into Law School in 2004, then articling for a well-known Toronto law firm? And didn't he agree to assist the Special Prosecutor in the case against Basi, Virk, and Basi?
 
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