Metro Vancouver to hold taxpayer-funded receptions in Victoria to lobby MLAs for support (Vancouver Sun, 23-Feb-2012)

Vancouver Sun (Kelly Sinoski) carried an article on 23-Feb-2012 saying Metro Vancouver’s intergovernmental committee approved lobbying receptions up to four times per year in Victoria, similar to lobbying activities of the private sector, in order to influence politicians of the provincial government.  Full article here.

“Metro Vancouver’s regional politicians plan to hold a reception in Victoria to wine and dine MLAs in a bid to educate them and win support for issues facing the region.”

Our summary of main points of article:

  • Directors say that B.C. politicians have little under-standing of what the regional district does, and the province often approves projects like the Port Mann Bridge and South Fraser Perimeter Road that end up costing the region money.
  • Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan says Metro should work with all agencies, such as the airport, ports and the province on infrastructure planning.
  • Lobbying is also hoped to address the lack of action by the provincial and federal governments on things like upgrades to the Lions Gate and Iona sewage treatment plants, and on legislation to levy fines on restaurants that dump grease down the sewers.
  • The idea may be to hold three or four receptions per year.
  • The committee is considering inviting all Metro directors attend the receptions.
  • The article says “the reception is part of an overall plan to improve communications and relationships with Metro municipalities, the public, TransLink and senior levels of government, and recognizes the existence of competition with private sector lobbyists.
  • It goes on to report that Metro also hopes to boost its profile through a branding exercise.

MetroVanWatch comment: As these receptions will be paid for by taxpayers of the region, the Metro Vancouver should let the public know about the timing and costs of receptions. Financial reporting should make it clear exactly what we are paying for and what we are getting for it. On one hand, the objectives could be worthwhile for the people of the region, but this kind of thing could become a very expensive routine expenditure if held four times a year for the rest of eternity. Also, what could be the unintended consequences of this all being approved? For one thing we not that Vancouver, Burnaby, and Surrey city councils are each dominated by one sole political party. In the case of Vancouver, for example, all six of the city’s directors on the Metro Board are from Vision Vancouver. If non-Vision members are not invited to the receptions, these lobbying receptions could have the further effect of strengthening personal ties with MLA for that party, to the exclusion of non-Vision elected officials, and the bill would be paid for by the taxpayers of 22 municipalities. Nice deal.

SUGGESTED ACTION: Taxpayers in each municipality should be talking to their local elected officials about this idea. The public should also be asking whether the costs of these receptions are going to be an productive investment of our tax dollars. This is an open question for all to consider.

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