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HomeBusinessExclusive: Gregor Robertson’s ex-chief of staff scores no-bid contract from John Horgan’s office

Exclusive: Gregor Robertson’s ex-chief of staff scores no-bid contract from John Horgan’s office

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Bob Mackin

A former right-hand man to ex-Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson scored a $22,000 no-bid contract from Premier John Horgan’s office, theBreaker.news has learned.

Kevin Quinlan (Twitter)

Kevin Quinlan got the gig on May 31 for “coordination services for Food Security Task Force Project.” Horgan spokeswoman Sage Aaron said Quinlan was hired for project management, not policy analysis.

“Costs will be vouchered to the Ministries of Agriculture and Jobs, Technology and Trade,” Aaron said. The government launched a food security survey website in July on ways to boost agritech and reduce food waste. The survey closes Oct. 15.

Quinlan’s contract is below the $25,000 threshold for competitive procurement. If a ministry can prove only one contractor is qualified or there is urgent and confidential need, it can award a contract of any size without competition. Quinlan’s contract falls under the confidential category.

Quinlan began as Robertson’s executive assistant in 2008 and ultimately became chief of staff in 2016 when Robertson’s longtime right-hand man Mike Magee quit to become a lobbyist. Quinlan was also deputy communications director on Vision re-election campaigns in 2011 and 2014.

Amid declining popularity in 2018, Robertson chose not to run for re-election after new campaign finance laws that banned corporate and union donations. theBreaker.news revealed in 2018 that Quinlan and Robertson used Gmail to hide their email from freedom of information requests. Among Quinlan’s duties revealed in the trove of hidden email was to ghostwrite Robertson’s Tweets.

Cardona (left) and Robertson (Vision)

Quinlan took a Simon Fraser University night school course in real estate development in 2015. After Kennedy Stewart won the mayoralty, Quinlan took a course at Harvard University in finance for senior executives.

In April, he opened Quinlan Consulting to provide climate change, infrastructure and finance strategy and public policy analysis to businesses, governments and non-profits. Quinlan also joined Toronto consultancy Mantle314 Inc. as senior advisor in July.

The Geoff Meggs effect

Quinlan is no stranger to Horgan’s chief of staff, former Vision Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs.

Since Meggs quit city council in July 2017 to join the Premier’s office, cabinet has appointed numerous ex-Vancouver city hall bureaucrats and politicos to provincial boards or jobs.

Health board appointees include: ex-city manager Penny Ballem and ex-assistant city manager Wendy Au (Vancouver Coastal Health), ex-Vision Coun. Kerry Jang and Vision donor Gary Pooni (Provincial Health Services Authority), ex-Vision treasurer Opreet Kang (Fraser Health) and Trout Lake community centre president Kate Perkins (Providence Health). Perkins worked in the city elections office in 2011 and as Pride coordinator in 2012. In leaked 2012 email, she described herself as Ballem’s “mole” during the contentious operating agreement negotiations between community centres and the Vision-dominated Park Board.

Premier John Horgan with chief of staff Geoff Meggs on a February 2019 trip to Washington State (BC Gov)

Vision-hired general manager of buildings and permits, Kaye Matheny Krishna, went to work in Victoria as deputy minister of municipal affairs and housing last March. Ex-Vision park board commissioner Niki Sharma is an aide to Minister of State for Child Care Katrina Chen, while twice-defeated Vision city council candidate Diego Cardona is an aide to Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark.

Cabinet named ex-Vision city councillor Raymond Louie to the province’s Medal of Good Citizenship Committee and ex-Vision city councillor Heather Deal to the Council of the Architectural Institute of British Columbia. Cabinet appointed ex-Vision park board commissioner Catherine Evans to the B.C. Society of Landscape Architects’ board of examiners.

Former Robertson aide Mira Oreck worked for two years in Horgan’s office as director of stakeholder relations. Another former Robertson aide, Naveen Girn, joined Horgan’s office in May as director of strategic outreach and stakeholder relations.

Horgan’s office has also hired Suzanne Hawkes of Convergence Communications to run cabinet retreats. Hawkes is Magee’s wife and Convergence is their company.

Last, but not least, Vision Vancouver’s godfather and chair of the Hollyhock resort on Cortes Island, Joel Solomon, is an NDP-appointee to the University of British Columbia’s board of governors.

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