The same day that the B.C. government denied Shaw Communications’ attempt to overturn the major $1 billion contract awarded to competitor Telus, Shaw CEO Brad Shaw met with Premier Christy Clark.
Documents obtained via Freedom of Information by Business in Vancouver show that of the eight complaints the government received through its Vendor Complaint Review Process since January 1, 2011, five were about the direct award in June 2011 of a 10-year, omnibus telecoms contract to Telus after the two-year competitive process was abruptly halted.
The documents show complaints by Bell, Rogers and Shaw were denied January 30, 2012 because the government claimed the RFP cancellation and direct award processes were “consistent with government policy.” Clark’s agenda shows she met on the same day with Brad Shaw from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Vancouver cabinet office in Canada Place, two blocks east of Shaw Tower.
Shaw Communications media relations manager Kara Bussey declined a BIV request to interview Brad Shaw and she refused to comment about the meeting and bid complaint. Since 2005, Shaw Communications donated $59,015 to the B.C. Liberal Party, most recently a $20,000 contribution on January 10 of this year.
Coincidentally, less than two weeks after Clark and Shaw met, the $40 million deal by Telus to rename BC Place Stadium as Telus Park fell through. The controversy prompted B.C. Liberal bagman Peter Brown to immediately quit the BC Pavilion Corp. (PavCo) board of directors on February 13. In March, Pat Bell, the minister responsible for PavCo, claimed the BC Place name was “iconic” and that the Telus deal “did not provide the best value for taxpayers.”
On July 13, 2011, Shaw senior vice-president of regulatory affairs Jean Brazeau blasted the government’s telecoms contract award to Telus in a letter submitted during the first round of complaints.
“Once the B.C. Government determined its own procurement process was not going to prove satisfactory, the entire procurement process should have been cancelled,” wrote Brazeau.
Brazeau suggested the government should have retendered the services under a new process that could have allowed bidders the opportunity to explore the formation of consortiums.
Bell complained July 25, 2011, but was denied October 20, 2011. Another Bell complaint, filed September 7, 2011, led to a denial on January 30, 2012. Bell lawyer Thomas Sides of Fraser Milner Casgrain, Edmonton, appealed to Comptroller General Stuart Newton, whose April 24, 2012 letter said the Cabinet and Treasury Board decision fell outside the Vendor Complaint Review Process.
Shaw, the only major telecommunications company that isn’t a top-level sponsor of a professional Vancouver sports venue or franchise, also locked horns with Telus on July 14, 2011 – the day after Brazeau’s complaint letter – when it filed opposition with the Canadian Intellectual Property Organization to the Telus application to trademark the Optik TV brand.