The eighth wonder of the world

In the past fiscal year, the Campbell administration farmed out more than $400,000 in work to government relations firms Global Public Affairs Inc. and GPC International Inc. - according to a review of public accounts. In the past, some eyebrown raisers have said the awarding of such contracts opens the door to conflict of interest allegations. After all, these firms are in the business of lobbying government on behalf of powerful corporate interests. So couldn't the work they do for taxpayers be influenced by those interests?

Not a chance says GPC vice-president and managing director Mark Reder. According to Mr. Reder, whenever his company takes a job with the province, they do so under strict government-mandated conflict of interest guidelines. As an example, GPC, which has worked exclusively for the ministry of energy and mines, recently did research on coalbed methane regulations and offshore oil and gas policies for the Campbell administration. So Reder, who has been a past lobbyist for energy giant ConocoPhillips Co., excused himself from that work.

And Global Public Affairs (which merged with National Public Relations Inc. in May 2004), for its part, takes similar precautions when taking government contracts - which has included stakeholder relations work for the ministry of energy and mines and support services for the Canada-British Columbia Joint Task Group on Post-Treaty Fisheries. The company also previously provided support for the Firestorm 2003 Provincial Review. Between fiscal 2002/03 and the past fiscal year, government has transferred more than $1 million to both firms. A version of this article was originally published in today's edition of 24 hours.

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Payments to Global Public Affairs/National

Fiscal 2004/05 - $174,774
Fiscal 2003 - $507,546
Fiscal 2002/03 - $37,976 (National)
Fiscal 2001/02 - $0

Payments to GPC International

Fiscal 2004/05 - $256,456
Fiscal 2003 - $79,973
Fiscal 2002/03 - $31,878
Fiscal 2001/02 - $0

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