Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wannabe premiers show their donation dockets

VANOC chairman Rusty Goepel (left) donated to Liberal leadership candidate George Abbott's campaign. (Bob Mackin photo)

The score is Kevin Falcon $708,664.58, Christy Clark $519,040 and George Abbott $427,842.

Those are the donation tallies released Feb. 22 by three of the four candidates in the race to succeed Gordon "Red Mittens" Campbell as B.C. Liberal leader and the new premier of British Columbia. A telephone and Internet vote will be held Feb. 26. Will the winner have the biggest war chest or will it be a cost-effective victory?

Why do people donate to politicians and parties? The tax receipt is often secondary or tertiary. Sometimes the donors are friends or business associates. Often it's a way to get noticed and even, ahem, receive future considerations. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. There are even some who -- gasp -- donate money because they actually believe in the policies of the candidate.

A closer look at the lists reveal some interesting connections.

Francesco Aquilini, owner of the Vancouver Canucks and Rogers Arena, stayed true to his word. He told me in January after a Board of Trade lunch that he'd be happy with Abbott, Clark or Falcon. The owner of the rink where the biggest hockey game in history happened Feb. 28, 2010 sent $25,000 cheques to each of them.

Concord Pacific, which hosted Molson Canadian Hockey House during the Games, gave $5,000 to Falcon and $2,500 each to Abbott and Clark. (Coincidentally, Abbott Street leads to Concord property and Clark Drive isn't far away. Falcons are few and far between on False Creek.)

Clark got $500 from former Canadian tennis pro Grant Connell, now a high-end real estate agent. Oh-so-popular and tenant-friendly landlord (oh, the sarcasm!) Hollyburn Properties donated $10,000. Does this mean Clark is beholden to the West End's notorious "renovictionists"?

Encana, the company whose northern B.C. pipelines were allegedly (and suspiciously) bombed in the months leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics, gave $1,500 to Clark but $3,000 to Abbott. (Hey, whatever happened to Wiebo Ludwig or was that RCMP raid a form of "security theatre" connected to the Olympic torch relay? Just askin'.) They both received $1,500 cheques from MDA Corporation, the Richmond-based military contractor which mysteriously became involved in the RCMP surveillance camera contract for the Olympics.

Lurking in the shadows of Clark's campaign is Patrick Kinsella, the veteran political strategist, lobbyist and racehorse owner. Kinsella's Progressive Group donated $20,000. Kinsella was behind Social Credit Premier Rita Johnston's epic 1991 election loss and Tory Prime Minister Kim Campbell's equally impressive 1993 federal loss. Johnston and Campbell were crowned by their parties, but the people voted against them because of their unfit to govern parties.

Will the K-Man use Clark to complete his trifecta of female futility? For those keeping score at home, he's the Liberal insider involved heavily in BC Railscam who figuratively boasted he had a "foot into" VANOC. Who's powerful leg it was attached to remains a mystery.

Then there's $10,000 from Pacific Customs Brokers. That's the company run by Kinsella's horse racing partner Glen Todd. PCB received a lucrative and exclusive contract by VANOC to handle customs clearance and freight forwarding for the 2010 Games. Not a small job, seeing as how PCB had its hands all over heavy and expensive things like backup power generators, bobsleds and satellite dishes that came and went across the border. At previous Olympics, global logistics giant Schenker signed sponsorship/supply deals. The Vancouver 2010 bid book in 2003 mentioned customs clearance and freight forwarding as a potential sponsorship category. For some reason, never properly explained by VANOC, PCB was given a service contract. Meanwhile, Brenda J. Kinsella kicked in $3,000.

Who else is on the Clark list? Condo king Bob Rennie's Rennie Marketing Systems ($15,000) and Peter S. Malek ($2,500) of Millennium Development. Remember Millennium, don't you? The company's division that developed the Olympic Village went into receivership on Nov. 17, 2010 over a $740 million debt to Vancouver taxpayers.

Clark's coffers were also filled by developer Peter Wall ($15,000), Bruno Wall ($10,000) and Wall Financial ($25,000).

Falcon's campaign may be brought to you by the letter K. Kebet Holdings is another name for the Beedie Group. Real estate tycoon Ryan Beedie's $30,000 was only exceeded by the $40,000 from Keg Restaurants. Kyle Washington, whose company supplied the barge on which the Olympic rings floated in Coal Harbour, gave $10,000.

Shato Holdings (the Toigo family company which owns the Vancouver Giants) gave $5,000 to Falcon and Abbott. Richmond builders and former Vancouver 86ers' owners Maureen and Milan Ilich sent $5,000 to each of the three. Falcon doesn't have a slush fund, but a Slurpee fund. He had $4,000 from 7-Eleven.

Falcon is a former highways minister, so it's no surprise that Langley Concrete Group ($5,000), Mainland Sand and Gravel ($2,000), Mainroad Home ($5,000) and Pacific Blasting ($5,000) shovelled cash his way. They all had Olympic contracts. Dueck -- the massive GM dealership owned by Moray Keith -- gave $1,000 to Falcon and Abbott.

Theresa Emerson, wife of former federal Olympics minister David Emerson, gave $1,000 to Falcon but $500 to Abbott.

Rusty Goepel, the longtime Gordon Campbell loyalist and chairman of VANOC (yes, it still exists) gave $250 to Abbott. Interesting, because Abbott's logo is a crudely drawn torch.

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