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BC's registrar refuses to investigate complaints about lobbyists

British Columbia's lobbyists registrar will no longer be investigating violations of the Lobbyists Registration Act.

In a letter sent to provincial New Democrat attorney general critic Leonard Korg, registrar David Loukidelis states he doesn't have the legal "tools necessary to properly investigate and address complaints" under the act - a concern he has shared with Attorney General Wally Oppal. And, until he does have those tools, Mr. Loukidelis's "general policy" will be to "decline to investigate" such complaints.

The admission comes after provincial Liberal backroom boy Patrick Kinsella refused to "consent to any investigation or reporting" into his interactions with the Campbell administration by the registrar.

"Quite deliberately, in my view, the registrar's mandate, powers and resources do not support external investigative work," Loukidelis wrote. "Because of my restricted mandate under the LRA, I am unable to gather information from unwilling parties or to impose corrective measures or sanctions even if I were to believe that a person has engaged in unregistered lobbying."

Mr. Loukidelis also states that, as a result of that refusal, he agrees with Mr. Krog that the "only meaningful recourse" available is to contact the police.

Mr. Kinsella has never registered as a lobbyist. In the past, he has repeatedly denied ever lobbying the government he was instrumental in electing. And, according to a written statement issued by his company, The Progressive Group is "confident it has consistently and correctly followed the requirements of the Act," registering "each and every" time it communicates with public office holders on behalf of clients.

But a national payday loan company executive has said his firm hired Mr. Kinsella to do lobbying work. Earlier records exclusively obtained by 24 hours also show Mr. Kinsella's government relations company has helped win major contracts and benefits for foreign and business interests. And those same records show Mr. Kinsella was scheduled to repeatedly meet with one government minister.

Under the act, consultant lobbyists are required to sign-up if they, for pay, communicate with a public office holder in an attempt to influence government - although there are some exceptions to that rule. But consultants must always register if they, for pay, arrange a meeting with an office holder and another "person."

"There is a public perception that my office can meaningfully address allegations of unregistered lobbying and my office has received numerous complaints in recent months. This public perception is a matter of concern to me in view of my limited role and authority under the LRA," Loukidelis wrote.

Sean Holman is legislative reporter for Vancouver's 24 hours and publisher of Public Eye Online.

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