Do­bell says he did not con­sider him­self a lob­by­ist

Vancouver Sun - - Front Page - BY JEFF LEE and JONATHAN FOWLIE VAN­COU­VER SUN

Do­bell, Pre­mier Gor­don Camp­bell’s for­mer deputy min­is­ter and once the most pow­er­ful bu­reau­crat in the prov­ince, re­peat­edly ex­pressed the view that he “sim­ply did not con­sider” he was a lob­by­ist in an un­usual es­say he agreed to write for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to avoid be­ing charged with a vi­o­la­tion of fed­eral lob­by­ist reg­is­tra­tion laws.

The ex­is­tence of the four-page re­port be­came known Wed­nes­day when Do­bell ap­peared in Van­cou­ver Pro­vin­cial Court charged with one count of vi­o­lat­ing the pro­vin­cial Lob­by­ists Reg­is­tra­tion Act.

Af­ter nearly 40 years as a pub­lic ser­vant in lo­cal, re­gional and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments, Ken Do­bell said it never oc­curred to him that do­ing paid con­sult­ing work for a mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment might make him a lob­by­ist.

He pleaded guilty be­fore Judge Joseph Galati, who re­served sen­tenc­ing un­til to­day.

Mean­while, the New Demo­cratic Party spent a third con­sec­u­tive day push­ing the gov­ern­ment to sever all ties with Do­bell.

“Ken Do­bell broke the law,” NDP MLA Norm Macdon­ald said in ques­tion pe­riod. “For the rest of so­ci­ety, there is a host of con­se­quences with that.

“Those con­se­quences should ap­ply to a close friend of the pre­mier as well,” Macdon­ald said, call­ing on the gov­ern­ment to im­me­di­ately re­move Do­bell as the chair­man of Vanoc’s fi­nance com­mit­tee.

The gov­ern­ment re­sisted, point­ing to the on­go­ing ju­di­cial process.

“The judge said he will con­sider the ar­gu­ments on both sides, and he will i mpose a sen­tence un­der the law, un­der the Lob­by­ists Reg­is­tra­tion Act,” said At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Wally Op­pal. “We’ll wait for that de­ci­sion.” Ter­rence Robert­son, a spe­cial Crown pros­e­cu­tor, said fed­eral of­fi­cials had also con­cluded that Do­bell should have reg­is­tered in Ottawa as a lob­by­ist. How­ever, in­stead of charg­ing him, they sent the case to “di­ver­sion,” mean­ing it was dealt with out of court. As part of the agree­ment, Do­bell agreed to write the re­port, which Robert­son called “an es­say.”

Robert­son told Galati the es­say was seen as par­tic­u­larly valu­able in help­ing other for­mer pub­lic ser­vants avoid the kind of mis­take Do­bell had made.

“When I left gov­ern­ment as an em­ployee, I sim­ply did not con­sider that the work I was go­ing to un­der­take made me a lob­by­ist and re­quired me to reg­is­ter,” Do­bell wrote, not­ing he now re­al­izes “that I have en­coun­tered a num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als do­ing work that would likely fall un­der the am­bit of the leg­is­la­tion who may not be reg­is­tered.”

In a sec­tion of the es­say ti­tled lessons learned Do­bell ob­serves that even though he was act­ing as a con­sul­tant to the City of Van­cou­ver, his ac­tions were found by pro­vin­cial In­for­ma­tion and Pri­vacy Com­mis­sioner David Loukidelis to be de facto lob­by­ing.

Do­bell also said the cost of his trans­gres­sion was sig­nif­i­cant: de­spite a life spent care­fully avoid­ing po­lit­i­cal prob­lems, he be­came em­broiled in a po­lit­i­cal con­tro­versy that reached into the leg­is­la­ture. “As any­one who has spent time in gov­ern­ment will ap­pre­ci­ate, this was not much fun!” he wrote.

Do­bell sat qui­etly in court as Robert­son re­vealed that Do­bell had mis­tak­enly con­cluded he didn’t need to reg­is­ter as a lob­by­ist with the prov­ince while rep­re­sent­ing the City of Van­cou­ver on two con­tracts, one in­volv­ing a cul­tural precinct and the other, plans to in­crease so­cial hous­ing.

Robert­son told the judge the case is com­pli­cated be­cause Do­bell, a highly re­spected bu­reau­crat, wasn’t try­ing to hide his role as a lob­by­ist and his job was clearly known to both the city and the prov­ince.

Al­though Do­bell could face a fine of up to $25,000, the pros­e­cu­tor said the of­fence re­quired a fine “on the ex­tremely low end” of per­haps $500 or $1,000. He said Do­bell, who was paid $350 an hour for his work, had agreed to re­turn nearly $7,000 in fees to the city.

Defence lawyer Ge­orge Mac­in­tosh asked the judge to give Do­bell an ab­so­lute dis­charge be­cause what oc­curred was “an hon­est but mis­taken be­lief” that he didn’t need to be reg­is­tered.

Do­bell rose through the ranks as a bu­reau­crat in the city, even­tu­ally be­com­ing city man­ager while Camp­bell was mayor. He went on to work as the CEO of Tran­sLink, and for Camp­bell in the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment as deputy min­is­ter. He re­signed as deputy min­is­ter in May, 2005, and a month later was hired on a con­sult­ing con­tract to act as a Camp­bell spe­cial ad­viser.

In the leg­is­la­ture, Op­po­si­tion mem­bers also con­tin­ued to call for Camp­bell’s cur­rent deputy min­is­ter, Jes­sica McDon­ald, to be fired.

“Ken Do­bell’s pro­tégé just hap­pened to over­look Ken Do­bell’s vi­o­la­tion of this gov­ern­ment’s own laws. Jes­sica McDon­ald cooked up and ap­proved a scheme that the Crown pros­e­cu­tor called ‘in­flu­ence ped­dling,’” NDP MLA Jenny Kwan said.

“Un­der th­ese cir­cum­stances, how could this gov­ern­ment pos­si­bly have con­fi­dence in Jes­sica McDon­ald?” she asked.

“I am sad­dened by what I hear here to­day,” gov­ern­ment house leader Mike de Jong said dur­ing the ex­change with Kwan.

“This op­po­si­tion, in their des­per­ate at­tempt to achieve some kind of po­lit­i­cal ad­van­tage or po­lit­i­cal vic­tory, chooses to ma­lign the char­ac­ter ma­li­ciously of in­di­vid­u­als who have cho­sen to serve this prov­ince.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.