Friday, March 30, 2007

 

B.C. Rail lobbyists contacted Finance officials, writes Gary Mason

.

GARY MASON
Globe and Mail - 30 March 2007

VANCOUVER — ... Back in August of 2003, Paul Taylor was arguably the most powerful bureaucrat in the B.C. government and a friend of Brian Kieran, a lobbyist with the Victoria-based government relations firm Pilothouse. Pilothouse represented OmniTRAX, an American company that was bidding on the controversial rail sale that was being handled by the B.C. Ministry of Finance. {snip}

In an e-mail to Mr. Bornmann and a third partner, Jamie Elmhirst, dated Aug. 23, 2003, Mr. Kieran talks about a fishing trip he'd had earlier in the day with Mr. Taylor. The e-mail describes how Mr. Taylor went to bat for Pilothouse in a bid to get the firm work with the New Car Dealers of BC, formerly called the B.C. Automobile Dealers Association, of which Mr. Taylor was president before becoming deputy finance minister.

The memo describes Mr. Taylor recalling a recent meeting he'd had with Glen Ringdal, current president of the association.

"Paul told Glen he needed GR [government relations] on the ground . . . needed us," the e-mail reads.

"Paul says they have been missing stuff. He is totally amazed that BCADA has not got in the habit of coming to him for help on their issues.

"Paul says he continues to be very close friends with several store owners and really likes the industry. One owner has offered to bank roll Paul if he ever decided to buy a dealership. Paul was making it clear he will be there for us."

The e-mail then goes on to state that Mr. Taylor apparently told Mr. Ringdal he would have to pay about $50,000 a year for good government relations work.

"That's why Glen says he has a number in mind," wrote Mr. Kieran, referring to an earlier discussion with Mr. Ringdal. "Knowing that I'm inclined to come in at $6,000 [a month] and be prepared to retreat to $5,000. It will be more than the $50,000 but Glen doesn't have many options and he's still saving thousands."

The memo goes on: "Paul also says he has a special fund for $1 million for special projects."

In a reply to the e-mail later that same evening, Mr. Elmhirst writes, "Yah, well I could come up with this kind of great intel too if I lived next door to a blabby deputy minister!"

Contacted by The Globe and Mail about the e-mail, Mr. Ringdal confirmed that Pilothouse was hired by the association around this time to do some lobbying on its behalf in Victoria.

Asked if it was Mr. Taylor who recommended Pilothouse to him, Mr. Ringdal said: "It's not inconceivable. I got to know Paul because he's a friend of one of our very big dealers. That's where I would run into him. The fact he would make that kind of suggestion would not be untoward. That's very possible but I don't quite recall."

Later, Mr. Ringdal said he respected Mr. Taylor's understanding of how government worked. Asked about the overall contents of Mr. Kieran's e-mail, Mr. Ringdal said: "It sounds to me like [Mr. Taylor] was helping them get work and indeed he did. Which turned out to be fine."

Mr. Ringdal said that after Pilothouse was hired, he recalls being in several meetings with Finance Ministry staff who would have reported directly to Mr. Taylor. But he can only recall Mr. Taylor being in "one or two" meetings in which Mr. Ringdal and possibly a representative from Pilothouse would have been lobbying for changes that benefited the automobile dealers association.

At the time, the automobile dealers were looking for a number of tax cuts from the Finance Ministry.

There is no evidence that Mr. Taylor specifically approved or recommended specific changes that would benefit the association.

Mr. Taylor, meantime, said he was recently sent a copy of the e-mail by a person he would not identify. He said it was likely leaked to the media "to achieve mischief."

"It's an unfortunate e-mail that reflected a private conversation between two people [he and Mr. Kieran]. We were out fishing together and at the end of the day there's nothing of real substance in it I would say."

Mr. Taylor confirmed that he and Mr. Kieran had boats in the same marina and would go fishing together from time to time.

"Go back and understand one thing," Mr. Taylor told The Globe. "I was past president of the automobile dealers association. So I'd seen Mr. Ringdal from time to time. I may have had conversations with him from time to time."

He said he did not have any recollection about talking to Mr. Ringdal about hiring Pilothouse. {snip}

Mr. Taylor is now president of the Crown-owned Insurance Corporation of B.C. Mr. Kieran and partner Mr. Bornmann are expected to testify for the Crown.

Full story at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070330.wxbcmason30/BNStory/National/home
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
.

Comments:
Was this memo leaked or is it in the Public Domain?
 
Gary:

That's a factor which Gary Mason didn't mention in his interesting article this morning.

He just never explains how "The Globe" got the memo. But you could ask him ... gmason@globeandmail.ca ... he's usually very good about replying.
 
Gary ... sorry, that's .com, not .ca -- in other words:

GMason@globeandmail.com
 
Mary,
Wouldn't you like to have a look at Pilothouse's books for 2000 - 2004?

Gary Mason has finally provided us with something a little more solid than his Christmas gift of Dec 23. For which, many thanks.

This, for example:
Mr. Taylor apparently told Mr. Ringdal he would have to pay about $50,000 a year for good government relations work.

At the time this conversation took place Mr Taylor had already moved to his position of Deputy Minister of Finance from his previous position of Deputy Minister of the Treasury Board. Replacing as 'luck' would have it, Chris Trumpy - a career civil servant. It does pay (as Gary's column reminds us) to have friends in high places doesn't it?

ORDER IN COUNCIL 196
Statutory Authority: Public Service ; Financial Administration
Effective April 1, 2002:
Paul Taylor is appointed Deputy Minister (DM), Ministry of Finance, and Secretary to Treasury Board.
The appointment of Paul Taylor as DM, Treasury Board, Ministry of Finance is rescinded.
The appointment of Chris Trumpy as DM, Ministry of Finance is rescinded.

And of course, we know that all deputy minister appointments in the Campbell Government were handled by Mr Campbell's right hand man Martyn Brown on the command of the ceo Premier.



I'm sure Gary Mason knows this isn't a report of 'that' kind of fishing expedition but I wonder if the metaphor was designed to read that way or not.

And by the way, does anyone know where Erik Bornmann is waiting out the interregnum before his stillborn legal career can begin once again (with a little luck)?
GW
 
I wonder how this is going to play with judge Bennett if it came from something obtained through the disclosure process.

Then again, it wouldn't surprise me if it turns out that there are some sophisticated cut-outs at work here.

Regardless, I would sure like to hear more about this million dollar slush fund that Mr Taylor was, allegedly, in control of.

.
 
When it comes to Pilothouse,it is always interesting to note their rarely mentioned "office manager" at that time -

From their website (once upon a time):

"He is the office manager for Pilothouse, Larry Thompson. He coordinates client research and acts as the corporation's Controller. Thompson has two decades of experience in Canada's Armed Forces, primarily as a researcher and administrator for Canadian Military Intelligence. He also served as an Assistant Military Attache in Moscow during the critical last years of the Soviet Union."
 
From The Public Eye Online site of Feb. 15, 2005 it lists those "invited" to attend the provincial government budget lock-up. Jamie Elmhirst was on the list representing the New Car Dealers of BC.
 
Regarding the e-mail mentioned in this article,it's interesting to note the amount of the donation mentioned in the following Bill Tieleman column of Sept. 16, 2004 -about the raids on the legislature and the search warrant list. (Glen Ringdal's name is included on the list of individuals whose names appear as "identified" but not under investigation in the search-warrant information.)

Tieleman writes:

"Ringdal is CEO of the BC Automobile Dealers Association, which last year alone contributed $54,967 to the B.C. Liberals. He was previously president of the B.C. Lions and vice-president of the Vancouver Canucks. There is no reference as to why his name is listed in the search-warrant information."
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home