Les can't remember meetings with Kinsella

Former solicitor general John Les says he can't remember any specific meetings between himself and top provincial Liberal operative Patrick Kinsella. Speaking with Public Eye, Mr. Les said, "You know, I probably had thousands of meetings in my ministry experience. And I can't possibly remember what I might have been discussing with anybody in particular or in general. I've got a good memory. But it's not that good."

Continued Mr. Les, "My policy is always if somebody wants to meet with me, I'll meet with them. I don't exclude anybody. I have meetings with people that I enjoyed meeting with. I had meetings with people I didn't enjoy meeting with. And you just take them all as they come. That was generally my policy. But, like I say, specific meetings with specific people - I don't remember what was discussed."

According to records obtained exclusively by Public Eye via a freedom of information request, Mr. Kinsella, along with ING Canada Inc. executives, were scheduled to meet with Mr. Les on April 11, 2007 and February 1, 2006. An ING spokesman says Mr. Kinsella, who worked as a "consultant" for the insurance giant, attended the April 11, 2007 meeting.

A calendar entry also shows Mr. Kinsella was scheduled to meet with Mr. Les on May 2, 2007. That entry includes the notation "Payday lenders." An executive for The Cash Store Financial Services Inc. says Mr. Kinsella worked for his company in the "spring of 2007."

Under the Lobbyists Registration Act, consultant lobbyists are required to sign-up if they, for pay, communicate with an office holder in an attempt to influence government - although there are some exceptions to that rule.

In the past, Mr. Kinsella has repeatedly denied ever lobbying the government he was instrumental in electing. And, according to a written statement issued by his company, The Progressive Group is "confident it has consistently and correctly followed the requirements of the Act," registering "each and every" time it communicates with public office holders on behalf of clients.

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