Companies broke lobbying rules in arena deal
|Quebec's lobbying commissioner, Francois Casgrain, ruled this week that the two companies failed to register as lobbyists prior to the start of talks. (Jean-Francois Desgagnes/QMI Agency)
QUEBEC CITY - Bell Canada and the Evenko promotion company could face fines for violating lobbying rules while they negotiated for the rights to the city's proposed $400 million arena.
Quebec's lobbying commissioner, Francois Casgrain, ruled this week that the two companies failed to register as lobbyists prior to the start of talks.
The contract eventually went to Quebecor Inc., owner of QMI Agency and the Sun Media chain.
The lobbying commissioner issued a warning against Quebecor for registering later than the prescribed deadline, but Casgrain said he would take no further action.
The commissioner did, however, cite Evenko for lobbying municipal officials in Quebec City even though executive Pierre Boivin was not inscribed in the provincial lobbyists' database.
Casgrain forwarded the file to the Crown, which could fine Evenko between $500 and $25,000 for each of four reported infractions.
Bell Canada was singled out in the lobbying report for unauthorized negotiations with Quebec City mayor Regis Labeaume and a second official.
The telecom giant began talks in January but only registered as a lobbyist on May 10.
Neither Bell nor Evenko returned phone calls.
Quebecor will pay $33 million for 25-year naming and management rights to the arena, which is scheduled for completion in 2015.
That amount rises to $63.5 million if Quebec City lands an NHL team.
Construction of the publicly financed arena would be the first step towards the return of NHL hockey to the provincial capital. The Quebec Nordiques left for Denver to become the Colorado Avalanche in 1995.
Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau has made it clear he would be interested in owning any future NHL franchise in Quebec City, a government and tourist centre of 650,000 people.