Friday, November 9, 2012

#LiquorLeaks - still pouring

In this Nov. 2 Business in Vancouver story, I revealed how the British Columbia government conducted secret consultations with select industry players about the plan to privatize the Liquor Distribution Branch's warehousing and distribution.

The internal documents on which the story is based are below. They are from briefings for Liquor Minister Rich Coleman and then-Finance Minister Kevin Falcon. They show that the government was concerned with the well-being of ContainerWorld, the largest of the pre-distribution warehouses on contract with LDB. ContainerWorld is owned by B.C. Liberal supporter Dennis Chrismas, who met with Coleman on March 2.

Chrismas was originally opposed to any change in the liquor distribution system. When bidding opened, ContainerWorld was involved because the privatization would have phased out the pre-distribution program. In this May 29 Business in Vancouver story, I detailed the interesting relationship between ContainerWorld and Exel, the company that lobbied the B.C. Liberals heavily for seven years to privatize. From an observer's point of view, two of the four shortlisted companies may have been too close for comfort.

On page 89 of the documents below, you'll even find that an unidentified person scrawled "Dennis Chrismas." Either Mr. Chrismas's name came up during the ministerial briefing or it was top-of-mind for one of the participants.

The privatization was scrapped Sept. 27 when the government and B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union agreed on a new contract. The premature cancellation was announced the next day. And we still don't know the real reason why.


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