Sam Cooper of Global TV wrote a fascinating piece this week outlining the backstory of Kathleen Wynne’s handling of a large casino contract through the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.
The piece included details highlighting the revolving door between Wynne’s government and corporate lobbying, as well as information from internal emails between Sanjay Sen, the founding partner of the investment firm BloombergSen (where Caroline Mulroney was a VP), and members of former PC leader Patrick Brown’s senior staff, Walied Solomon and Alykhan Velshi.
One email from Sen on December 20th, 2017, is particularly damaging. The email was sent to Solomon and Velshi and included the ambiguous subject line ‘PCs Still Talking About Great Canadian’.
The body of the email includes a link to a Globe and Mail piece as well as an excerpt that includes a quote from Vic Fedeli, who was the PC Finance Critic at the time and is currently running for re-election in the riding of Nipissing.
Fedeli viewed the possibility of Wynne awarding the contract to Great Canadian Gaming despite money laundering accusation, as “quite shocking.”
The email is significant because BloombergSen had millions invested in Great Canadian Gaming.
In a subsequent email to Velshi, Solomon says “I continue to get lobbied on this” and advises Velshi, who was Brown’s chief of staff, to continue criticizing the deal.
Velshi responded by listing the pros and cons of Great Canadian Gaming, but, despite the company’s ongoing money laundering scandal and concludes, “I am reluctant to give the anti-Great Canadian people a heads up…since there are probably shadier elements and interests there.”
Velshi did not specify what was shadier than the money laundering accusations against Great Canadian Gaming.
After this email exchange, Fedeli was silent on the deal, despite his previous statements.
This paints a picture of possible illegal lobbying by Sen, and Velshi’s apparent influence over the PC caucus. Velshi and Solomon are both viewed by some Patrick Brown loyalists as staff members who betrayed their former boss, resigning without warning when Brown’s sexual misconduct scandal broke.
Meanwhile, the Liberals had a key ally registered to lobby for Great Canadian Gaming. Bob Lopinski, who was a member of Wynne’s campaign team in 2014, began lobbying for Great Canadian Gaming in 2015, but denies he was lobbying for the company’s Greater Toronto Area contract bids.
How Is The Relationship Between Politicians And Businesses So Close?
Ontario lobbying laws allow for government officials to immediately begin working for companies they used to deal with, as long as they do not lobby their former ministry.
In 2017, Patrick Brown, reacting to another Liberal using what has been called the revolving door between politics and lobbying, made the following comments.
“Frankly, right now in Wynne’s Liberal Ontario, you can have the government give a company a bundle of cash, and the next day, those political staffers, those Liberal insiders, can go work for that company.”