Aquilini, Garibaldi at Squamish, the BC Liberals and the EAO

Elections BC reported that Francesco Aquilini, the chief financial backer of the Garibaldi at Squamish Resort Proposal, has donated over $1,000,000 to the BC Liberals and Christy Clark since 2005.  Are there implications to a political donation of this magnitude? We don't know. We don't know to what extent the B.C. cabinet or the premier can exert influence on say, the Environment Assessment Office, to approve an environmental assessment certificate for a project under scrutiny.
There were two articles in the Globe and Mail at the end of March 2016 about "payments for access to politicians."  According to the Globe and Mail, it is a very big problem at the provincial level in Ontario, but still not as big a problem as it appears to be in BC. In the opinion of 2020, asking the question, is Francesco Aquilini, or any other corporate donor, buying access to politicians and the bureaucracy in BC seems to be fair. The federal government certainly thinks that such donations are problematical. To that end, they have taken steps to greatly reduce the risks associated with unfettered corporate and personal donations.
There are environmental conflicts that should have stopped the Garibaldi at Squamish Resort proposal from being approved during its Environmental Assessment Process.  Many of these conflicts are clearly spelled out on our website. The existence of the donations is suggestive that the EAO approval may not be entirely fair.

Internal Links:

Elections BC Reference:

Click Here for a complete list of Aquilini Donations to the BC Liberals since 2005.

And from the Tyee Newspaper in 2013:

Extract from the Tyee article:

Aquilini Fights to Keep Financial Empire Secrets

Nearly a million dollars in political donations

The Elections BC database lists $968,495 of political donations from Francesco Aquilini and various companies, such as Aquilini Development and Construction Inc., Aquilini Group Properties LP, 1941 Garibaldi, Parkview Terrace-Franklin, Renfrew Garden, Triumph 1975, Aquilini Renewable Energy LP, Camp Developments Corp., GERI Partnership, K&L Land Partnership, K and A Investments and Tri Power Developments LP.

Most donations went to the BC Liberals; the 2007 ownership trial heard how Francesco socialized with former finance minister Gary Collins and now-deputy premier Rich Coleman.

The NDP did receive $120,000, in anticipation of the expected change of government that ultimately didn't occur

Globe and Mail links:

Letters to the Editor of Pique Newsmagazine on the B.C. Environmental Assessment process:

Here's Melyssa Desilles of My Sea to Sky, Howe Sound writing to Pique newsmagazine, March 24th, 2016 about the EAO decision which granted approval for Woodfibre LNG project.

The many failings of the BC Environmental Assessment process — government as industry cheerleader, proponent-supplied "science," no cross-examination of evidence, disdain for local input and consultation, inadequate notice and short response periods — fell seriously short of a fair and balanced EA approach.

2020 Commentary

It should be added that the EAO made its decision on GAS in part on the environmental assessment provided by the proponent's consulting firm - ENKON environmental. The ENKON assessment admitted that it only studied the GAS project area and did not take into account regional impacts. It was noticeable in several areas that wildlife disruptions were glossed over with meaningless generalizations. For example, the report did not identify where mountain goats overwintering at Brohm Ridge give birth after they migrate to summer range. This is given as evidence there is no impact on mountain goats.

There should be an independent environmental assessment not one commissioned by the proponent. It leads to the stench surrounding the EAO process as pointed out by Melyssa Desilles.

A second letter to Pique the following week from Tracey Saxby, concerned citizen of Squamish and co-founder of My Sea to Sky and addressed to The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change in Ottawa:

Ms. Saxby writes,

You [The Honourable Catherine McKenna] also state, "The Woodfibre LNG Project underwent a thorough, science-based environmental assessment that considered public and Indigenous input and views."

I counter that the provincial environmental assessment process has been a complete sham. This stems from the fact that the provincial ministers responsible for issuing the B.C. Environmental Assessment Certificate have a conflict of interest as the B.C. Liberals have a mandate to develop LNG export facilities. This seriously undermines the integrity of the process.