Lobbyists are among Kennedy Stewart’s campaign fundraising ‘captains’

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A document from Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s team that lists local businesspeople as important fundraisers for his re-election campaign contains the names of three lobbyists who are targeting Vancouver City Hall.

A document from Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s team that lists local businesspeople as important fundraisers for his re-election campaign contains the names of three lobbyists who are targeting Vancouver City Hall.

Former NDP fundraiser Rob Nagai, former NDP chairman Craig Keating and former executive director of the Liquor Control and Licensing Directorate Bert Hick are among three dozen “captains” in the fundraiser. funds on both pages, which were found by a Georgia Straight contributor.

The total fundraising goal is $783,500, of which Nagai and Keating’s goals are to each raise $12,500 and Hick $5,000. Last year, according to the document, Nagai made $3,100, Keating $950 and Hick $900. None responded for a comment.

TEAM for a Livable Vancouver mayoral candidate Colleen Hardwick has complained to Elections BC and the city’s Integrity Commissioner about the fundraising method and the involvement of the taxpayer-funded chief of staff of Stewart Neil Monckton and communications director Alvin Singh, who is also a Forward Together candidate for the city council.

“We are reviewing a spreadsheet that was found by Stanley Woodvine and posted on social media,” Elections BC spokesman Andrew Watson said. “At this stage, the origins of the spreadsheet and the nature of the information it contains are unclear and we have not drawn any conclusions on this.”

After coming to power in 2017, the NDP government banned corporate and union donations. Individual donations to municipal parties and candidates are capped at $1,250 in 2022.

Nagai is Chairman of Federal Government and Regional Affairs for Bluestone Government Relations. He spent from 2011 to 2017 with the NDP where he bragged about raising $7 million to fund the party’s election campaigns. He was also a member of Vision Vancouver and the Burnaby Citizens’ Association.

Last December, after eight years as party chairman, Keating joined the Vancouver office of Strategies 360, headquartered in Seattle, as vice president and head of the municipal lobbying practice, with a focus on zoning, permits and regulatory issues.

On April 7, Keating registered provincially on behalf of client Tantalus Labs Ltd. to arrange meetings between the Maple Ridge greenhouse grower and officials from three departments and the non-medical cannabis arm of the Liquor Distribution Branch.

Documents released under freedom of information show that on April 14, Keating arranged a meeting between Stewart and marijuana industry executives from Tantalus Labs, Pure Sunfarms, Muse and the Donnelly Group.

Keating has made four donations since 2019 to Stewart’s re-election campaign, totaling $1,350.

Hick founded Rising Tide Consultants in 1988 after running LCLB and working in Prime Minister Bill Bennett’s office. Rising Tide specializes in advising clients on hotel business development, alcohol and cannabis licensing, compliance and enforcement, and municipal permits. Last July, Hick successfully lobbied the City Council to expand the Fountainhead gay bar on Davie Street.

In 2014, he donated $5,000 to the NPA and $1,635.96 to Vision Vancouver.

When Stewart launched his successful campaign to become mayor in 2018, he promised that during his first 100 days in office, the city council would enact legislation “requiring all lobbyists to report details of their activities in an online registry.” online, and to make this information available to the public free of charge and impose fines for non-compliance.

However, he did not follow up.

Instead, on December 5, 2018, city council unanimously passed Stewart’s motion calling on the NDP government to amend the Lobbyists Registration Act to cover Vancouver City Hall or modify the

Vancouver charter to allow the city to establish its own registry. Neither has happened and municipal lobbying remains unregulated.

The city council, however, could have acted immediately on its own. Section 203 of the Vancouver Charter allows City Council to regulate businesses, trades and professions, deciding “the conditions under which any group or class may or may not carry on the business, trade, profession or any other occupation.

When she was mayor of Surrey, Dianne Watts used a similar clause in the community charter to launch BC’s first municipal lobbyist registry for developers.

Helping someone get elected can create a real or perceived conflict of interest.

There is no provincial or municipal code of conduct for lobbyists in British Columbia, but the federal code states that a public office holder who benefits from political activities may have a sense of obligation to those who occupied senior position in a party or had significant interaction with candidates.

“If you engage in high-risk political activity, you should not pressure a public office holder who has benefited from it, or their staff, for a period equivalent to a full election cycle,” the code said. federal.

In an April interview, Daniel Gold, who studied lobbying history and regulation for a doctorate in constitutional law and public policy at the University of Ottawa, said lobbying and campaign finance go hand in hand. .

“They’re both ways to influence political figures, and in many ways they work together,” Gold said. “So if you donate, you have access to politicians. And once you have access to politicians, you can voice your concern. The politician [that] feels indebted to you is more likely to take your concerns seriously.

Gold said lobbying is a fundamental tenet of the democratic process. But it is also corrosive for democracy.

“If you think about interactions, you know, we elect a government every four years, whereas lobbyists can be in the same office once a month, sometimes once a week, raising their concerns and, I would say, massage the exit of the government,” he said.

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