Locked Chambers?

Your humble organ has written at length about the Campbell administration's decision to give private liquor stores a price break on the alcohol they purchase from government. But we're not the only ones curious about that decision. According to records obtained by Public Eye via a freedom of information request, New Democrat caucus research officer James Steidle contacted the liquor distribution branch in January, asking for more information "to help the NDP develop a (sic) official stance on the LRS discount." This, according to an email sent by branch general manager Jay Chambers to Solicitor General John Les's executive assistant Don Smukowich. But, in that email, Mr. Chambers writes he "will not call James Steidle back with the information he is seeking until I get the go ahead from you...If he calls back staff will say that I am unavailable."

In an interview with Public Eye, the general manager explained, "It's standard protocol for all ministries that any question from political parties is to go through the minister's office for direction." And why did he instruct staff to say he was unavailable if Mr. Steidle phoned? "I was at meetings all day," responded Mr. Chambers. "So it was just to explain that I'm unavailable and will call back. And I probably should have extended that (sentence) on and just said, 'I'm unavailable and will call back when available.'"

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From: Chambers, Jay LDB:EX
Sent: Fri, January 5, 2007 2:06 PM
To: Smukowich, Don SG:EX
Cc: Curran, Rachel E SG:EX; Morhart, David A SG:EX
Subject: FW: PHONE CALL - Legislative enquiry
Importance: High

Hi Don - as per our telephone conversation I will not call James Steidle back with the information he is seeking until I get the go ahead from you.

He has called in with more details in regards to his request. They are, in his words, as follows:

- wants to know more information to help the NDP develop a official stance on the LRS discount for the the legislature;
- what is the difference in price for the consumer between public and private liquor stores?
- what is the LRS discount?;
- how/at what point is tax applied to the production of alcohol?
- says that people are construing the LRS discount as a government subsidy.

If he calls back staff will say that I am unavilable.

Thanks

Jay

8 Comments

So what's the big deal here?

This is merely government by Campbell. Did you expect anything else? Funny how some of these guys always get themselves in trouble when booze is involved.

Neat, isn't it, how some bureaucrats know that their first responsibility is to those who sign their cheques even if they've sworn to serve the public.

One must wonder how often civil servants like Chambers go to political appointees to get their marching orders.

But the "I was in meetings all day" nose-stretcher ought to be enough to embarass even a politician.

And I’m sure the NDP government of the 1990’s had standing orders to the bureaucracy to rush to the phones when the then opposition Liberals called looking for information…

Actually, let`s concentrate on the current government. The NDP was voted out of office in 2001- we need to focus on what`s going on now. "That was yesterday, and yesterday`s gone". Here in Kelowna the "government" made a decision to close the Gordon Drive Liquor Store, and is quite possibly still paying a lease on an empty store. Something that was done as a "business decision".

There must be a lot of Liberal/Socred 'hacks' monitoring critical sites that comment on their 'difficulties'. The mantra ad nauseum is to blame the previous government. I wonder just what's in it for these shills?

Hey Remember:

Wasn't it the Campbell Fiberals that campaigned to be "the most open and accountable government in British Columbia history?"

Funny how hollow those words echo these days with this bunch of neo conservative, counter democratic thugs.

Well it’s been over 6 months since this email. Has the NDP come up with an “official” position yet on the LRS issue yet ? I am still waiting for the official position on the Port Mann expansion. Vaughn Palmer wrote a good column yesterday about Carole James and the NDP’s inability to come up with a position on anything

The entire privitisation of the liquor industry has been done by stealth - no legislative debate, no statutory change. Its all by fiat and regulation. Look at how the discount increase was announced, at a conference of industry people closely aligned with the Liberals. Look at how the NDP's queries were answered; by a Chamber's stonewall.

I wouldn't worry too much about the NDP - I'd have a look at the actual actions of the governing party.

Maybe if Gordo and crew spent more time in the Legislature they could ask the opposition what their ideas are on the items you mention, Kevin. But then of course the government's side of the house might be asked about the convention center now about twice the origional price. Or why is it that BC is one province from the bottom of the pile with social programs.Or why so many deputy ministers have left the system. Do you figure Gordon will chance showing up this fall to follow the times and date, he set for the Ledg to sit? I wouldn't bank on it as a lot of questions heading toward the government's side won't be that easy to answer. Or how is the cost estimates for the RAV line square with the first set of numbers? Lots of questions unanswered on Gordons side of the house.

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