Friday, July 23, 2010

Patrick Kinsella: The B.C. Liberals GoodFella

Lobbyist and Liberal loyalist/opportunist Patrick Kinsella: one of B.C.'s most controversial and influential political figures.
Minister of booze and gambling Rich Coleman (above centre) dined with booze and gambling lobbyist Patrick Kinsella on July 21 at a Keg in Surrey. Strictly a personal affair, says a Coleman staffer.

Guess who's back in the news?

Just in time for a good ol' gambling scandal, none other than Patrick Kinsella.

Kinsella (top) ran the B.C. Liberals' campaigns in 2001 and 2005, donated $76,864 to the party between 2005 and 2009, and was intricately involved in the BC Rail privatization scandal, which is also known as Regina vs. Basi, Basi and Virk.

Expect Kinsella to be on the witness stand to answer questions about the appearance that he worked for both Crown corporation BC Rail and its successful suitor Canadian National Railway. Expect defence lawyer Michael Bolton to ask Kinsella about his activities over the last decade.

According to the blog of political commentator Alexis G. Tsakumis, Kinsella was spotted dining July 21 at a Keg restaurant in South Surrey with none other than Rich Coleman, B.C.'s minister of housing and social development who is also in charge of gambling and liquor. That's the same Coleman (pictured above at a podium) who skipped out of a July 15 press conference early because he apparently found something else to do to avoid the probing questions of reporters at the launch of

Yes, that's the same "North America first" government-run online casino called PlayNow that was shut down after six hours because of a privacy breach. What were the odds of that happening?

A Coleman staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said "the minister has advised this was a personal dinner." As for Kinsella, he did not respond to a phone message I left with his receptionist.

Kinsella runs a "government relations" (read: lobbying) company called the Progressive Group. After years of denying he was a lobbyist (and evading a lobbying-related RCMP investigation because of a legal loophole), he finally signed-up when a new law came into effect April 1, 2010. Lo-and-behold, the Progressive registration shows that he was lobbying during those years that he said he wasn't.

Kinsella's clients include Great Canadian Gaming, Pacific Western Brewing, Mark Anthony Group and Exel Logistics. For those keeping score at home, the respective entities are in the business of gambling, drinking, drinking and industrial delivery. His Lobbyist Registry entries list Coleman as the "target contact" for three of the four companies above and the intended outcomes are either "Development, establishment, amendment or termination of any program, policy or decision" or "Awarding, amendment or termination of a contract, grant or financial benefit."

Oh, it's certainly possible that Kinsella didn't mutter a word about his clients or their goals with Coleman when they broke bread at the Keg. Maybe they spent a few hours mulling the merits of the Keg's Lobster Summer special menu, which expires Aug. 22?

So why, you ask, does Kinsella deserve to be on a blog about the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics?

Kinsella lobbied the B.C. government on behalf of the State of Washington's Olympic office. The contract documents, obtained by Public Eye's Sean Holman, show Progressive pledged to arrange meetings between government decision-makers and businesspeople in Washington and senior officials in the B.C. government and Vancouver Olympic organizing committee.

Kinsella and his sidekick Mark Jiles even told Washington that:

"Progressive Group is located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, while at the same time has a presence in the Provincial capital of Victoria and a foot into the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee (VANOC). The Progressive Group is the only public affairs, Olympic affairs and sports marketing firm in B.C." 

Progressive client Orca Creative Group of Woodinville, Wash. scored lucrative gigs through the B.C. Olympic Games Secretariat to design the B.C. Canada Pavilion in Beijing in 2008 and the B.C. Showcase at Robson Square and Four Host First Nations pavilion in 2010.

Great Canadian Gaming was the beneficiary of a controversial VANOC contract to upgrade the power supply at Hastings Park. The project was awarded Oct. 5, 2007 and Wespac got the gig.

The work was necessary for lights and TV cameras at figure skating and short-track speedskating at the Pacific Coliseum. Great Canadian had the money and a plan to overhaul the antiquated Hastings Racecourse electrical system for several years. Then an offer it couldn't refuse came along in 2007 from VANOC. The two parties split the $1.24 million bill.

The Multiparty Agreement of 2002's Annex L listed the competition, training and support facilities that would receive taxpayers' funds. Only the Pacific Coliseum and a then-envisioned temporary arena would get funding. The race track was closed at Games-time and should not have qualified for a dime from VANOC.

Kinsella is a longtime insider with Great Canadian, whose board of directors includes Sen. Larry Campbell. Campbell was Vancouver's populist left-wing mayor when city council approved a casino in 2004 for Hastings Racecourse, despite strong opposition from neighbours.

Kinsella was the co-winner of the 2009 B.C. Horse Racing Industry Top Owner award with stable partner Glen Todd, another well-known friend of the Liberal Party. Todd donated $105,052 between 2005 and 2009.

Todd has an off-track betting parlour called The Derby Bar and Grill connected to the headquarters of his Pacific Customs Brokers on the South Surrey side of the 49th parallel. PCB scored the lucrative VANOC contract for customs clearance and freight forwarding. There were 82 nations entered in the Vancouver Games and PCB was there to ensure the equipment and supplies of athletes, officials and sponsors got in and out of Canada. VANOC never published the value of the contract.

Page 93 of the 2003-published Vancouver 2010 Bid Book listed "freight forwarding and customs brokering" as a tier III category that needed filling. German giant DB Schenker was the official freight and customs sponsor of Athens 2004, Turin 2006 and Beijing 2008. Schenker clients for Vancouver 2010 included NBC and the German Olympic team. For some reason never fully or properly explained, VANOC didn't do a sponsorship deal with Schenker or any of its global competitors. It paid PCB to do the work in a contract dated July 7, 2008.

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