This morning, brother muckraker Russ Francis reported in The Province that, "In disclosures about gifts received last year, Solicitor-General Rich Coleman lists a $400 crystal rendition of two horses (he received) from the Horsemen's Protective and Benevolent Association and Thoroughbred Related Associations." After doing a bit of digging, Public Eye has learned those "Thoroughbred Related Associations" include the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (British Columbia division) and (drumroll please) Hastings Entertainment Inc. The three organizations split the cost of the Swarovski crystal horses, which were actually valued at closer to $500. So what did the solicitor general do to deserve such a fine gift?
Well, according to thoroughbred horse society president Dixie Jacobson, the statuette (which she purchased) was presented to the minister during the organization's industry awards ceremony held on April 10 at the Westin Bayshore Resort and Marina. She says it was a token of appreciation, for "supporting the (horseracing industry)."
When Public Eye asked Ms. Jacobson how the minister has supported that industry, she told us, "No racing jurisdiction in Canada has been successful unless they've had slot machines at the track to compete with the other industries in their area." And, under Solicitor General Coleman's watch, 600 of those machines were approved for installation at Hastings Racecourse. That racecourse is operated by Hasting Entertainment, which is owned by Great Canadian Casinos Inc.
Solicitor General Coleman, the minister responsible for gaming, previously told the legislature the British Columbia Lottery Corp. "now has the responsibility of the conduct and management of gaming in British Columbia, arm's length from any political influence."
Ms. Jacobson also added, "because (Solicitor General Coleman's hometown of) Langley is the horse capital of B.C., he knows many people have horses and how much trickle down effect the racing industry has - not only in Langley but province-wide. And he's probably the best minister (the Liberals) could have put in charge of gaming because he's aware of that fact...And I've never been that political but I'm very political now because Rich Coleman is just a terrific guy as far as I'm concerned. He's been good for everybody."
Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell received a similarly-valued token on appreciation at the April ceremony. Solicitor General Coleman is on vacation and was unreachable for comment.