B.C. Libs deny they're selling access to government

B.C. Liberal party is denying it is trying to sell access to government for a $10,000 donation.

The British Columbia Liberal party is making no apologies for a fundraising letter suggesting $10,000 will get the "undivided attention" of key cabinet ministers.

The letter went out to major public relations firms in Vancouver inviting them to a luncheon. But when news of the letter's contents got out, the luncheon was cancelled.

It was supposed to take place at a restaurant in one of the city's exclusive waterfront hotels.

B.C. Liberal party fundraiser Patrick Kinsella and about a dozen principals from Vancouver's biggest PR firms were scheduled to attend.

But the lunch was called off after CBC News obtained a copy of the letter that accompanied the invitation.

The letter, from Kinsella, tells PR firms the communications sector hasn't paid its share. It suggests a $10,000 cheque would demonstrate the firms' support for the government.

It also suggests the $10,000 could buy an intimate lunch or dinner with a key cabinet minister for important clients.

B.C. Liberal party executive director Kelly Reichert denies accusations the party is selling access to the government. "We've been very clear to all the people that seek donations, and all the people that give donations, that all they should expect to get from that is that they're going to get better government."

Reichert says there is nothing unusual about a political party soliciting donations from the communications sector, or any other sector.

Jean Cormier of Cormier Communications agrees. His firm was one of the companies to receive the letter. "When you go to political functions and you make a donation to the party obviously you get to rub shoulders with some of the people who are in the party and in the government," he said.

B.C. NDP Leader Joy MacPhail says the intention of the letter is obvious.

"It's sort of like when someone says, 'You know it's not about the money,' you know it's about the money. And when someone goes and says, 'It's not about access,' you know darn well it's about access."

Reichert said Monday's event was cancelled simply because not enough people were available to attend. He says the meeting has been postponed until the fall.