British Columbia

B.C. Liberal insider stonewalls lobbyist investigation

A Liberal insider is refusing to co-operate with an investigation by B.C.'s Registrar of Lobbyists, and now the NDP says it will take its complaint to the RCMP.

A Liberal insider is refusing to co-operate with B.C.'s registrar of lobbyists in investigating allegations he improperly lobbied the government and now the NDP says it will take its complaint to the RCMP.

Patrick Kinsella, the co-chair of the last two B.C. Liberal election campaigns, has been accused of working as a lobbyist without joining the B.C. lobbyists registry as required by law.

In May, NDP MLA Leonard Krog provided registrar David Loukidelis with material that he said showed Kinsella, acting under the corporate guise of Progressive Holdings Ltd., lobbied former B.C. solicitor general John Les on behalf of a payday loan company.

But Loukidelis can only legally investigate if the person facing the complaint co-operates, and Kinsella has refused to do so.

His lawyer, Paul Cassidy of Blake, Cassels & Graydon, sent Loukidelis a blunt letter on Sept. 26 saying, "We hereby advise that Mr. Kinsella does not consent to any investigation or reporting by the registrar of lobbyists in respect of any such complaint(s) that may involve him."

Krog says it shows the Lobbyists Registration Act is a paper tiger.

"I think it's pretty clear that they are respectfully suggesting to Mr. Loukidelis he has no right, no jurisdiction and no ability to investigate, and to back off," said Krog.

"What it does say is that the act is totally inadequate, that we should have a legislative sitting this fall, that the act should be revised and reformed," said Krog.

Attorney General Wally Oppal conceded the legislation needs improving, echoing comments he has made in the past.

"I think there need to be some kind of investigative tools, whether it's in this act or another act, that makes sense," said Oppal.

Meanwhile, Krog says without a tougher law, his only option is to ask the RCMP to investigate Kinsella's activities.

"Any complaints that people have about a breach of the act, they literally have to report them to the RCMP if they want to see any action," said Krog.

"I will provide the same information to the RCMP that has been provided to Mr. Loukidelis, and it will be up to the RCMP to decide whether to investigate," he said.

The allegation Kinsella now faces is very similar to one levelled last year against Ken Dobell, a longtime adviser to Premier Gordon Campbell.

Dobell was granted an absolute discharge in March after admitting he breached the rules by failing to register while working as a lobbyist.

With files from the Canadian Press