Clark Wilson LLP partner Lyall Knott wears many hats. He's a prominent lawyer, one of the provincial Liberal's best known fundraisers and now, it seems, a mailman of sorts for the liquor industry. According to records obtained by Public Eye via a freedom of information request, on November 21, 2006, Mr. Knott sent the following note to Solicitor General John Les's executive assistant Don Smukowich: "I enclose herewith a copy of a letter that I have been asked to forward on to the Minister. The letter comes from one of the groups that attended the Dinner. Kindly pass this note along." The letter, whose signatories have been blanked out, suggests a number of "changes to current liquor policies regarding private sector retailing in British Columbia" - including increasing the discount private liquor stores receive when they purchase booze from the government.
But Mr. Knott's note was sent a little too late. Just a day before, Les told an industry conference he would be making just such a change - costing taxpayers up to $31.1 million in lost revenue. Mr. Knott hasn't responded to requests for comment placed via phone and email. The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned note.
November 21, 2006
Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
PO Box 9053 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2
I enclose herewith a copy of a letter that I have been asked to forward on to the Minister. The letter comes from one of the groups that attended the Dinner.
Kindly pass this note along. Thanks.
CLARK WILSON LLP
Lyall D. Knott, Q.C.
November 15, 2006
Re: Proposal for changes to existing Liquor Distribution Branch and Liquor Control and Licensing Branch Policies regarding Licensee Retail Liquor Stores and Wine Stores
The following are suggested changes to current liquor policies regarding private sector retailing in British Columbia which are submitted for your consideration.
3. LDB price discount to wine stores
The owners of private wine stores have for years enjoyed a 30% discount on wine purchased from the LDB. It is suggested that this decision not be changed and if any changes are made to the discount, it be given to the LRS operators, which currently only have a 13% discount.
Over two years ago, the previous Minister moved the LRS discount from 10% to 12% and then 13% with the promise to the industry of further increase, which have not happened to date.
It is suggested that the wine store discount remain as it is and that the LRS discount be increased over time.
The foregoing four points are advanced for your consideration. It is submitted that they would result in increasing the stability and predominating the industry yet maintain government relations where required ie the public interest and public safety which is the primary focus of regulating liquor.
If more information is required, please do not hesitate to contact us.