Friday, June 22, 2012

Exclusive: Tell us, why Brown petered out of PavCo?

The mystery continues over why Peter Brown suddenly resigned from the B.C. Pavilion Corporation board of directors on Feb. 13.

All signs point to the Howe Street wheeler-dealer being frustrated over B.C. Liberal cabinet members overturning the PavCo recommendation for Telus to be the 20-year, $35 million to $40 million naming rights sponsor of B.C. Place Stadium. But the government wants to sweep it under the rug.

Brown's departure didn't become public knowledge until March 9, a week after Premier Christy Clark was a no-show at a Telus news conference where NDP leader Adrian Dix mugged for photos with the Vancouver-based, Liberal-friendly telecommunications giant's boss Darren Entwistle. 

The Liberals promised that some of the costs of the $563 million, taxpayer-funded renovation would be  paid by sponsorship. When they went into damage control mode, Clark, Finance minister Kevin Falcon and PavCo minister Pat Bell laughably said the deal was not in the best interest of taxpayers and claimed the B.C. Place name was "iconic." Such feeble excuses.

I received, via Freedom of Information, a copy of correspondence between Brown and Falcon, including Brown's Feb. 13 letter of immediate resignation from PavCo.

A key paragraph was censored, under section 13 of the FOI act, which broadly covers "advice or recommendations" for a public body. 

The missing section comes after a line that says: "In almost every case, the government dealt with us and third parties professionally, respectfully and in good faith." It appears Brown was setting up a paragraph in which he was going to give the government a piece of his mind. 

Evidently, the Liberal government is embarrassed to show you and me why one of the party's biggest donors and one of the province's best-known businessmen skedaddled from the Crown corporation.

The official explanation from Brown and Podmore after the news broke in March was that Brown wanted to lessen his busy schedule and that PavCo was transitioning from a construction phase to a marketing phase. Podmore has been in no apparent rush to fill Brown's empty spot at the board table. Nor is he in any rush to tell taxpayers the final price tag for the most-expensive stadium renovation in Canadian history.

Brown's letter was an immediate notice of resignation and, based on the tone of the third paragraph, it indicates that Brown had more on his mind than a desire to lessen his schedule or assist PavCo in evolving from construction to marketing functions. Within the documents below, you might also notice how Brown mentioned he was going to visit the High Commissioner in London? That would be a certain Gordon Campbell, the former Premier of B.C. who appointed Brown to the PavCo board. 

Neither Brown nor Podmore responded to my requests for comment. When will the government come clean, and just tell us the truth?

(The B.C. Lions' season opener at B.C. Place on June 29 against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The rematch of the 2011 Grey Cup is sponsored by Telus. Could that be the night the consolation prize, the exclusive telecommunications supply deal for Telus, is announced?)
PeterBrownFOI Mackin

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