Winery connected to minister lobbies feds

A winery connected to the province's agriculture minister is lobbying a federal government organization. But a ministry spokesperson stressed Ben Stewart has no involvement in that effort. Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery Ltd., which was co-founded by Mr. Stewart and is now being run by his younger brother Tony, is lobbying the National Research Council Canada for funds to hire a research and development employee. Responding to a question about that lobbying, the spokesperson stated the minister has "no involvement in the day to day operations" of the winery "as his interest is in a blind trust, the terms of which have been approved by the Conflict of Interest Commissioner."

According to information filed with the federal government, Quails' Gate is looking for grant funds to hire a viticulture postgrad and for research funding. The government spokesperson directed specific questions about that lobbying effort to the winery.

For his part, Mr. Stewart's younger brother explained Quails' Gate plans on using that funding to develop a system that will monitor its vineyard on a grand scale, enhancing the quality of the wines it produces.

Speaking with Public Eye, he said the system will allow for real-time temperature and moisture readings of that vineyard - helping Quails' Gate know how to best cultivate their crop, and how to conserve water and work time.

The winery is lobbying the government via consultant Ray Filipiak. His work got underway on January 24.

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