Corporate sponsors for premiers meeting not conflict of interest, says Ghiz

Teresa Wright
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Premier Robert Ghiz prepares for the start of the premiers meeting with First Nations delegates in Charlottetown Wednesday.

P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz says hundreds of thousands of dollars raised through corporate sponsors to entertain the country’s premiers in Prince Edward Island this week is not a conflict of interest.

The Council of the Federation raised $450,000 from a number of corporate sponsors, according to an article in the Ottawa Citizen.

It cites a list of sponsors, many of whom would have a keen interest in lobbying provincial governments on regulatory and policy issues, including the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada and the pipeline company TransCanada.

Their sponsorship allows representatives from these companies to attend receptions and social events that are a regular part of the annual Council of the Federation meetings.

But Ghiz dismissed the idea these companies gain any influence or additional face time as a result of their sponsorship, which range from $5,000 to $150,000.

“In my opinion it’s about supporting democracy, it helps save taxpayers’ money and we have union representatives there as well,” Ghiz said.

Indeed, three of the country’s biggest unions are on the list of gold level sponsors.

The Canadian Labour Congress, Unifor and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, each contributed $25,000, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

Ghiz made no apologies for the money raised and spent wining and dining the delegates, pointing out this saves taxpayers from having to foot the bill.

“If we’re bringing in people from all over the country, I want to show them a good time,” Ghiz said Wednesday.

But one of these expenses is raising eyebrows among some.

A block of VIP tickets for Saturday’s Shania Twain concert were reportedly purchased for a number of the 160-odd Council of the Federation delegates.

The tickets retail for $199.50 each, after taxes.

Ghiz said he did not know the details of how the sponsorship money was spent, but stressed this is how the federation meetings have operated for a number of years.

“We asked for sponsorship money, this is how it works year after year, if we didn’t have these dollars, someone would be saying how much is it costing the taxpayers,” he said.

“This is a good way to do things, if someone wants to change it into the future, great, but we weren’t changing it this year because I’d rather save the taxpayers of P.E.I. money.”

Ghiz added he is proud to be able to showcase the best of P.E.I.’s offerings both culinary and experiential to the conference delegates.

While in the province, the delegates will have an opportunity to taste P.E.I. lobsters, mussels, oysters, potatoes and steak. Premiers have already attended horse races Tuesday night in Charlottetown and will also have the chance to see Anne of Green Gables: The Musical and take part in some tours of the Island.

When asked whether he viewed the use of coporate sponsorship to pay for these events as a conflict of interest, Ghiz said simply, “God no.”

Organizations: Ottawa Citizen, Insurance Brokers Association of Canada, TransCanada Canadian Labour Congress Canadian Union of Public Employees

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Green Gables

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Recent comments

  • Joe Blow
    August 29, 2014 - 13:13

    Give it a couple of months and then see how many of those companies gets something from the government or see if they expand or improve their business in some way. That'll tell you exactly what that "sponsorship" money bought for them and their business.

  • Bert
    August 28, 2014 - 16:19

    I am sure with the Irving contribution to this conference, all Islanders can expect deep water wells.

  • sidney
    August 28, 2014 - 14:43

    Not a week goes by; that does not demonstrate what a greedy mindless bunch of politicians are capable of.

  • larry hughes
    August 28, 2014 - 12:36

    Teresa, if there is such a thing as a " Tory Heaven," then you will have a spot reserved!

  • Justin
    August 28, 2014 - 12:29

    So what is the big deal. I would rather see a bunch of fat cat corporations spending their money to entertain the premiers then MY tax dollars.

    • Upwester
      August 28, 2014 - 13:27

      JUSTIN... Then you will be the first one to complain when these fatcat corporations get their way with your tax dollars. I would think that it would be cheaper in the long run if taxpayers paid for it up front. At least that way we know what the final costs will be. By having corporations (lobbyist) pay for it, we will be paying for it in one way or another for years to come. The old adage still holds true..."your first loss is your best loss."

  • Islander
    August 28, 2014 - 12:00

    This is an embarrassment to all Islanders, - to think that we are responsible for electing as our leader, a man with such a warped sense of democracy. To think that these high paid individuals, Premiers and other hangers on, are accepting such largess from special interest groups, and stating it to be in support of `democracy`, no less.` I hang my head in shame, that we as a Province are witnessing such stupidity on the part of our Premier, during this year of celebration of Canada, ---

  • lowlife
    August 28, 2014 - 11:53

    How this notion of asking for sponsorship in the first place? Why would these politicians want to be beholden to certain interests? Where would they get the notion, that they should be feted and entertained beyond what was sensible and paid for by the taxpayers for an honest and needed endvour? They are all like Redford, and we know of Ghjiz's travel expenses, and his sense of entitlement. If this does not become a national outrage I don't know what should. This celebration of Confederation, as contrived as it is, will be forever remembered as the revelation of an uncalled for orgy of the collected Premiers and leaders, under the guise of serious debate.

  • lawson
    August 28, 2014 - 11:46

    So that is what the labour movement has come to, --- shields for corporate influence, and bedmates to a bunch of greedy Premiers and other forms of would be political leaders from across . The rank and file paying through the nose for their leadership should evaluate their affiliations. Pox on all your houses, --- as if the se pigs cared---

  • richard
    August 28, 2014 - 11:40

    Not surprising that this whole deal, the so called Council of the Federation, is scandal ridden, it was started by Charest, former Premier of Quebec, the cradle of sponsorship scandals and corruption. There appear not to be an intelligent honest man or woman in this current crop of leaders.--- God help Canada

  • kevin
    August 28, 2014 - 11:35

    I want an inquiry into this sponsorship scandal taking place right now in the Cradle of Confederation.- This is a breach of trust, - we, the taxpayers thought we were funding a serious conference and a serious debate. Turns out this is just a great summer vacation for get their bellies filled and their soul humored. What a brazen gang of thieves. Prime Minister Harper I call on you to investigate this travesty of democracy.

  • North Shore
    August 28, 2014 - 11:10

    Congratulations Premier Ghiz; Children on this Island go to school hungry & way behind every other student in Canada. Patients in Prince County can't get surgeries. But your friends get to WINE & DINE,see Shania & go home happy. Could these generous corporate funds be put to better use ?.How stupid do you think we Islanders are? If you are that foolish; I have a bridge for sale on the East Coast!!!!

  • JP
    August 28, 2014 - 11:04

    “"In my opinion it’s about supporting democracy, it helps save taxpayers’ money and we have union representatives there as well,” Ghiz said." Oh good. Because it's not like unions would be corrupt or self-interested. If they are supporting this practice them it must be OK.

  • bulldog
    August 28, 2014 - 11:01

    Would The Guardian obtain a list of all the people who got these. Free tickets to the concert.Maybe even publish the names as it would sell alot more papers . It certainly be interesting for the taxpaper to see.

  • JCB
    August 28, 2014 - 10:46

    Sad, sad, sad, is the belief of entitlement.

  • All Talk
    August 28, 2014 - 10:22

    All talk. That is what the complainers here are. Ghiz is going to get re-elected. Islanders are not bright enough to vote for their own best interests.

    August 28, 2014 - 10:13

    What a joke this man is. The same man who was getting rid of patronage if elected, the same man who was not going to let the HST into PEI, The same man who has handed millions upon millions to private business. The man now does not understand the term conflict of interest. If PEI votes this man and his inept gang in again they deserve everything he can and will do to them.

    • Fed up
      August 28, 2014 - 16:24

      The same man who you HST...promised a Doctor for every Islander. Same man who did NOT say he would party on OUR dollar... What a huge joke this guy is!!

  • Ph.D.
    August 28, 2014 - 10:05

    "In my opinion it's about supporting democracy, it helps save taxpayers money." Our Premier's intellectual shortcomings are well known, but this is an embarrassment. Please let me comment: 1. Nowhere is it said that public officials are to be EXTRAVAGANTLY nourished and entertained. Guidelines for elected officials, as well as public servants set out reasonable allowances provided by the taxpayers. If this is adhered to, the taxpayers are not saving any money, but simply supplying what is required. 2. Sponsorship money from private corporations and individuals are given based on the value in return e.g. PR results, influence on decisions etc. The statement 'supporting democracy' is in Ghiz's arsenal of unreasonable excuses only. For elected people from any level of government to not only accept, but encourage such practises is lamentable. The message we can take from this is that this conference is bought and paid for by somebody out there, and decision made here are not unfettered. I solicit the CRA and the Federal Government to look into this apparently running practise.

    • Hendricks from Tea Hill
      August 28, 2014 - 11:17

      These "corporate donations" to entertain the provincial Premiers are not exactly paid for by these corporate sponsors. They are treated as business promotional expenses for marginal tax purposes so the provincial and federal governments will receive less taxes than otherwise due from these corporations compared to corporations that do not "sponsor" these meetings. As for Premier Ghiz, we're waiting for a Liberal Senator from PEI to finally deal with him as a Liberal Party internal matter...stay tuned on that point in the months ahead.

  • Lavine
    August 28, 2014 - 09:39

    Wowsi, wowsi, wowsi, so the Premiers are bought and paid for by various companies to the tune of $ 450.000.- in the name of democracy no less. Not only that, this, according to Ghiz is normal practise--- I can't believe it. I have lost all respect for every one of them. You do not represent me or anybody else, but yourselves. Go home with your bloated bellies, - no need to worry about fitting into the airline seats, you will all be flying first class---- what a hoax on the people of Canada this lot of Premiers are. Rejoice, all you poor people on the reserves, your representatives and those who are using you for political purposes are well fed and entertained, your plight has been exploited to the fullest.

    • Garth Staples
      August 28, 2014 - 12:46

      And Unions.

  • What Else
    August 28, 2014 - 09:39

    Just what else would you expect him to say ! We the taxpayer are paying any way you cut it , in higher taxes or in higher prices to these so called sponsors , just to put a party on for a few political hacks & bloodsuckers . Shameful when you consider the number of people that can't even make end's meet for a meager living , staying in their homes - feeding & clothing their children . Nothing more than shameful on the part of these so called public leaders . With the money they are paid , they certainly could pay their own way at least for food & entertainment .

  • accountant
    August 28, 2014 - 09:27

    Well let me be the first to congratulate the Premiers on having a good time on sponsorship/taxpayers money. And here we all thought they were here on business, to discuss serious public issues, further the interaction between provinces for the betterment of all, all kinds of official serious matters. We all expected that the taxpayers would pay for reasonable expenses for travel food and lodging. Premier Ghiz reveals that donation from various private interest have donated clos to 1/2 mill dollars so these public figures can have a "good time", - he further states that this democracy, --- Mr. Ghiz, I knew you were a fraud, but that stupid too? I don't know if you believe such a statement or not, either way, let me enlighten you. These sponsors wants something, nobody gives away money for nothing. I am disgusting that this is legal, and if it is, I am disgusted that trusted public officials as Premiers of the Provinces are accepting and defending these bribes, as a matter of normal business. I am sure I am not the only one whose respect for these elected officials have been chattered by this news. You were too poor to buy concert tickets yourselves? You are willing to accept these gifts as 'show casing' what the Island has to offer? Shame, shame, shame

  • Bill Farley
    August 28, 2014 - 08:59

    Premier Robert Ghiz must feel taxpayers are as dumb as a bag of hammers to believe corporate sponsorship won't influence decision making down the road in favour of big business.

      August 28, 2014 - 13:40

      He'd be correct in his assessment if he thought this.

  • Garth Staples
    August 28, 2014 - 07:45

    As a citizen I can't donate more than a thousand dollars to a political party. On the other hand I can donate an unlimited amount to satisfy the entertainment needs of provincial politicians? Why the double standard between promoting democracy and providing wine, food and entertainment for premiers?

  • stupid voter
    August 28, 2014 - 07:20

    I voted for Ghiz

    • Sal
      August 28, 2014 - 12:52

      Very stupid voter

  • fed up
    August 28, 2014 - 07:17

    Of course he doesn't see a conflict, he doesn't understand what a conflict is. He has never had a job and the borderline illegal reign of terror he is operating/managing for a Charlottetown lawyer is proof in the pudding. $500,000 for PEI's drug addicted children would be better spent.

  • Quiet Observer
    August 28, 2014 - 06:59

    Of course the Prince of Patronage would see no problem with this. Everyone else in their right mind does, but not him.

  • so sad
    August 28, 2014 - 06:37

    This is where union dues go to. Three of the country’s biggest unions are on the list of gold level sponsors. Party on.

    • really?
      August 28, 2014 - 22:54

      Why would representatives of workers being here make you sad? Union members pay for that, to insure they have a voice, it doesn't cost non-union members anything. Does it bother you at all that the corporations are here?

  • Mike M
    August 28, 2014 - 06:17

    What the hell are they doing with all the money we have to give them. Anytime a sponsors involved it is a two way street. A corporation does nothing out of the good of its mechanical heart. They want something in return, definitely a conflict here.

  • Nothing Dirty Here
    August 28, 2014 - 06:02

    "Don't Be Stupid", "Any Man of Mine" elected to run this Province, can tell his buddies to "Come On Over" and "Party for Two". "From This Moment On" we shall all refer to this occasion as the time the Premiers "Dance with the One That Brought You." No One Needs to Know" the details of the expenses, we don't need to know "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?"