By BILL TIELEMAN, 24 HOURS
A key witness subpoenaed to testify in the breach-of-trust trial of former B.C. government aides David Basi and Bob Virk has re-entered the provincial lobbying business.
Jamie Elmhirst recently registered as a lobbyist for Aquaterra Inc., which owns bottled water company Canadian Springs and is a subsidiary of Danone, a giant French bottled-water and dairy-products corporation.
CLARIFICATION - I have just heard from Gara Hay, Vice-President Operations for Canadian Springs, who 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 for comment. See new posting for an update.
And perhaps surprisingly, given environmentalists' adamant opposition to bottled water, Elmhirst has also been hired as a strategist on provincial issues by Greenpeace, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation and other organizations.
Elmhirst was hired through an umbrella group called Priorities for Environmental Leadership. Matt Price, a group spokesperson, said members were unaware of Elmhirst's lobbying client.
"It's the first we've heard of it. We'll probably ask the people involved if they have any concerns on conflicts," Price told 24 hours.
Elmhirst is the former lobbying partner of Crown witnesses Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran, who allegedly bribed Basi and Virk to obtain confidential B.C. Rail privatization documents.
Price said Elmhirst's involvement in the Basi-Virk case "came up but we didn't think it would materially affect what he's doing for us."
Elmhirst and Aquaterra Inc. could not be reached by deadline.
Price added that Elmhirst, a former B.C. ministerial assistant in the environment ministry, was hired "to get a different perspective from the other side of the fence."