Picking on the PACE

By now, Public Eye readers should be well acquainted with Community Living British Columbia's decision to directly award $407,800 worth of information technology contracts. But equally eyebrow-raising is Community Living British Columbia's use of PACE Communications Group Inc. as their principle media relations consultant. The reason: the firm has extensive connections to the Campbell administration. PACE president Norman Stowe and his vice-president of communications and corporate relations Kathi Springer are both close with current Children and Family Development Minister Stan Hagen - the elected official responsible for the agency. And the PACE contractor working at Community Living British Columbia is none other than Val Richmond - the daughter of Employment and Income Assistance Minister Claude Richmond and former senior aide to ex-Children and Family Development Minister Gordon Hogg.

Community Living British Columbia chief executive officer Rick Mowles has assured Public Eye the PACE contracts were awarded via proper government procurement procedures. In fairness, Ms. Richmond also had ten years of experience working in the ministry children and family development before becoming a political staffer. And the Campbell administration isn't the only government that's seen fit to give work to PACE, a well-established company. When the New Democrats were in office they transferred $2.3 million to the firm between fiscal 1997/98 and 2000/01.

But despite repeated promises earlier in the week to provided Public Eye with a detailed accounting of the PACE contracts - including their value and the method by which they were awarded - the ministry of children and family development has yet to release that information (even though Mr. Stowe himself has urged government to make it public). Public Eye has filed a freedom of information request to obtain PACE's contracts with Community Living. A version of this article was originally published in today's edition of 24 hours.

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