Public Eye has learned a provincial Liberal operative has been hired as the director of communications for 2010 LegaciesNow, a society responsible for handing out millions of dollars in government money for Olympic-related development projects across the province. Daniel Fontaine, who starts work tomorrow, was once Health Minister Colin Hansen's constituency assistant. Stating the obvious, government insiders suggest Mr. Fontaine's hiring could be an early indication the Liberals plan on using LegaciesNow announcements as part of their pre-election campaign, churning out photo-opportunities for government members.
Mr. Fontaine was Vancouver city councillor Jennifer Clarke's campaign manager when she ran unsuccessfully (and disastrously) in 2002 as the Non-Partisan Association's mayoral candidate. The association, a right-wing civic party, has become something of a farm team for the Liberals.
According to Hansard transcripts, Mr. Fontaine was introduced in legislature back in 2003 by then Water, Land and Air Protection Minister Joyce Murray, as "a tireless volunteer" and "a key executive member of my B.C. Liberal Riding Association in New Westminster." Vancouver-Burrard MLA Lorne Mayencourt has also referred to him as "a good friend" - but, then again, isn't everyone a "good friend" when you're in politics?
Before joining LegaciesNow, Mr. Fontaine was director of communications and public affairs for the Western Brewers Association (which later became part of the Brewers Association of Canada), a position he jumped into in 2001 after working for Minister Hansen.
The British Columbia liquour industry regularly provides jobs for ex-provincial and federal Liberals staffers, the most recent and prominent being Neil Sweeney, a top aide to Premier Gordon Campbell who landed at Labatt Breweries Inc. when he moved out of the West Annex.
Mr. Fontaine is also vice-chair of the Spirit of 2010 New Westminster Committee, which has organized events featuring Minister Murray.
LegaciesNow is currently run by president Marion Lay, who was a member of the 4x100m freestyle relay team that captured the bronze medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Ms. Lay has an impressive resume in sports management that also includes a stint as a colour commentator for the CBC. She has a close relationship with Penny Ballem, Minister Hansen's deputy.