Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Canadian Springs spokesperson says company was unaware of Jamie Elmhirst role in Basi-Virk trial, work with environmental groups

Aquaterra Corporation, the firm which owns bottled water company Canadian Springs and has hired Jamie Elmhirst as its lobbyist in British Columbia, was unaware of Elmhirst's role as a subpoenaed Crown witness in the breach of trust and fraud trial of David Basi and Bob Virk.

Gara Hay, Vice-President Operations for Canadian Springs, said today he was also unaware of Elmhirst's role as a strategist for an umbrella organization of prominent BC environmental groups called Priorities for Environmental Leadership.

The story was published exclusively today in 24 hours newspaper and also on this blog.

Hay said he "didn't even know about" Elmhirst's involvement in the Basi-Virk case, which is still hearing defence applications before the full trial begins.

Elmhirst was formerly partners with lobbyists Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran at Pilothouse Public Affairs. Bornmann and Kieran are alleged in court documents to have provided Basi and Virk with bribes in exchange for receiving confidential government documents about the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail.

Pilothouse, whose offices were searched by police in December 2003, was representing OmniTRAX, one of the bidders at that time.

Hay also said he was unaware of Elmhirst's contract with Priorities for Environmental Leadership, a group that includes Greenpeace, Sierra Club - BC, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation and other prominent organizations.

"We hired him three months ago," Hay said. "I'll have to look at this and digest it."

Hay said Elmhirst was hired as a lobbyist on environmental issues.

"He's doing some work for me on government regulations in Western Canada," Hay said.

Hay complained that information in the 24 hours story was inaccurate regarding Aquaterra's ownership.

Hay says Aquaterra Corporation is the owner of Canadian Springs, not "Aquaterra Inc" as is listed on the BC government's Lobby Registry.

Hay also says Danone sold Canadian Springs to Birch Hill Equity Partners, which owns Aquaterra, last summer.

However one of Canadian Springs own websites still lists Danone as the owner, which is where I sourced the information, as does Industry Canada's website.

Hay was unable to return my messages yesterday.

Birch Hill Equity Partners is a private equity fund with $1.7 billion in capital under management and 23 partner companies. It was formed when a group of TD Bank employees left the firm and raised $850 million in initial capital.

Birch Hill invested $65 million last month in Vancouver-based Creation Technologies, an Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) provider and expert in manufacturing complex electronics.

According to a June 2006 news release Birch Hill also invested in Bio Agri Mix: "Bio Agri Mix is a Canadian industry leader and the largest supplier of medicated feed additives for the animal health industry in Canada."


Anonymous said...

Little jems keep bubbling up with help from you Bill.So many people see to hire others but know nothing about them. Is tha supposed to be a way to say"It;s not our fault"
Lobbyists must rank right down there will lawyers. dl

JD said...

Why am I not surprised that Elmhirst is keeping his dirty little secret close to his vest. The more things come out, the more questions that people will ask.

Now, Elmhirst has given the Defense another Gem to go after. The special inducements and benefits that the Special Prosecutor allowed to continue to lobby by not informing the government is something that has been raised and now will continue to be raised in light of Elmhirst' new client.

I can recall when you wrote about Elmhirst getting subpoenaed to testify that the great Mark Marissen wasn't even told. You will recall that Elmhirst stepped down as President of the Liberal Party a few weeks before the news broke.

For the last few years, Elmhirst, Keiran and Bornmann have prayed that this information will never hit the media.

Move to Toronto, change your name, change your business name,"retire" to your estate on Pender Island, and resign as President. All things related to the critical role these individuals play in the upcoming "trial of the century".

Thankfully, there are still some journalists with the courage to dig deeper into all aspects of the BC Rail corruption trial.

Anonymous said...

How can a guy who peddles bottled water, electronics, and medicated feed additives possibly be an environmentalist?

G. S. said...

I can only wonder what tales from the dark side have been told by the one they call Spiderman.

What will be the next shoe to drop?

Only time will tell. And the dog days of summer may provide some newsworthy events.

Glen said...

What a shock Bill! Elmhirst is lobbying again. It should be very interesting to see what happens next. I took note of the fact he has been lobbying for the last 3 months but only saw fit to register once questions were asked. Minor oversight maybe?

Lets see, the Liberal Party gets served with a request by the RCMP for the Paul Martin donor lists and Jamie is quiet. Very odd wouldn't you say, why not tell your executive and be upfront.

Bornmann makes accusations against Bruce Clark and Jamie is quiet. One would think the president of the party would defend the reputation of the chief fundraiser in BC. Again nothing but silence.

Jamie's partner Brian Kieran mysteriously retires mere days before the release of search warrants that state he allegedly bribed public officials.

What did Jamie know and when did he know it! The official spin, Kieran was retiring and Jamie would take the mantle while the senior statesman Kieran would give advice from his estate on Saltspring Island.

Jamie is served with a subpoena to testify. The question is obvious, testify to what? I wonder what Bornmann said about Elmhirst? We know based upon records that have been released to date that Bornmann states Elmhirst was funneling information to him about Kelly Reichart - who was apparently telling people bornmann had struck a deal - information that came from his brother in law Debruyckere (paragraph 52 of the application filed by lawyers on Feb 26/07). Instead of telling his party what does Jamie do, he decides to quit as president to spend more time focussing on his business and marriage plans (violin please).

Again what did Jamie know and when did he know it!

Now we have the present situation of lobbying for clients without registering. I wonder if there are any "blabby deputy ministers" behind the scenes.

Good work Bill, for those of us watching on the sidelines this is better than anything hollywood could produce!

All this does is lead to more questions. JD was right, the defence lawyers must be itching to get answers.

Paul Gill said...

A few angry members of the public have been calling these groups/ organizations and demanding answers.

I will provide some updates soon.

EA said...

Bill I just read on 24 hours the ndp has filed a complaint with the lobbyist registrat regarding elmhirst. The first comments from elmhirst about the complaint is they were "baseless". Maybe elmhirst will give you a call and discuss these "baseless" accusations.

Things are starting to get interesting again. "Baseless" allegations, "blabby deputy ministers" whats next??

Paul Gill said...


Canadian Springs has advised that the services of Jamie Elmhirst have been TERMINATED.