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HomeMiscellanyExclusive: NDP cabinet minister to host party fundraiser in a casino

Exclusive: NDP cabinet minister to host party fundraiser in a casino


Bob Mackin

Despite the NDP government’s worries about money laundering at Metro Vancouver casinos, the Minister of Labour has scheduled a party fundraiser at one in Burnaby. 

“After Work With Harry Bains” in the Personas Restaurant at Gateway Casinos’ Grand Villa Casino on May 23 is advertised on the NDP website. Tickets are $100 until May 1, when prices rise to $125.

Labour Minister Harry Bains (BC Gov)

Bains is to be joined by B.C. Federation of Labour president Laird Cronk and secretary-treasurer Sussanne Skidmore “for an evening of food, drink and great conversation.”

Bains is a target on Cronk and Skidmore’s lobbying registrations, which seek changes to the Labour Code, Employment Standards Act and better compensation for injured workers. 

BC Fed executive director Brynn Bourke said neither Cronk nor Skidmore were available for comment because of executive council meetings with all federation affiliates. 

Bourke sent a prepared statement from Skidmore: “Laird and I have been long-time members of the NDP. We are happy to take part in this event at a unionized restaurant (Personas).”

Representatives for Bains in the Ministry of Labour referred to the party office. Asked about the optics of holding a party function at a casino, NDP fundraising officer Dan Coulter said the event is being held at “a location convenient to many of the prospective attendees.”

Bains did not respond to email or a call to his mobile phone. 

Burnaby casino hosting Surrey MLA’s fundraiser (Grand Villa)

The Grand Villa Casino hosted Liberal Richard Lee’s recent Burnaby South by-election party. In February 2017, then Transportation Minister Todd Stone and Burnaby-Lougheed candidate Steve Darling held a pre-election fundraiser at Grand Villa, where they charged $175 to $5,000 for admission. In 2015, Mike de Jong, who was then the minister in charge of regulating casinos, held a charity roast for himself at River Rock Casino Resort. 

Last December, B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union announced workers at the Grand Villa Casino voted to accept a new four-year collective bargaining agreement after earlier voting to strike. 

Earlier this year, BCGEU joined the campaign for a public inquiry into money laundering in B.C. 

Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby are waiting for Peter German’s second report, due by the end of March, before deciding on whether to proceed with a public inquiry on money laundering related to casinos, real estate and the opioid crisis.

From 2013 to 2017, Gateway Casino gave the NDP $77,223, including $4,000 to Bains, the Surrey-Newton MLA. Corporations and unions were banned from donating to political parties in fall 2017.

Last fall, the B.C. Lottery Corporation, under Attorney General David Eby, rubber-stamped Gateway’s plan to move its Newton Community Gaming Centre casino licence to the Delta Town and Country Hotel site near the Massey Tunnel in 2020. 

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