Pubdate: Sat, 16 Aug 2014
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2014 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Peter O'Neil
Page: A8


Experts Say Campbell's Advisory Positions Are Within Guidelines but 
Put Him in a Poor Light

OTTAWA - Sen. Larry Campbell, while acting within ethics guidelines, 
has put himself in a clear "appearance" of being in a conflict of 
interest by accepting a post as adviser to a Vancouver company 
breaking into the medical marijuana business, say ethics experts.

The former Vancouver mayor was named Tuesday to an "advisory board" 
for Vodis Innovative Pharmaceuticals Inc., along with ex- 
Conservative MP John Reynolds, once one of Prime Minister Stephen 
Harper's most high-profile allies.

Vodis, which is seeking Health Canada approval to market medical 
marijuana, said both were brought on due to their business expertise 
and not because of any real or perceived political influence.

"It's just because of ( their) credibility," said Vodis chief 
financial officer Brian Gusko.

But three frequent commentators on government ethics said the 
appointment of Campbell, who like all senators earns a base salary of 
$ 138,700, could make Canadians wonder if he has divided loyalties.

The fact that the company handpicked one of B. C.' s best-known and 
most influential Conservatives, as well as Liberal appointee in 
Campbell, suggests the company is trying to cover its bases in case 
there's a change of government in 2015, they said.

"This would appear to be the purchasing of access," said Richard 
Leblanc, associate professor of law, governance and ethics at York 
University in Toronto. "It's an enormous conflict of interest."

Spokesmen for two ethics watchdog groups, Democracy Watch and 
Integrity B. C., said Campbell is acting within Senate rules, which 
they have criticized as too loose.

They said an argument can be made that it's ethical for senators and 
ordinary MPs to maintain an interest in family companies after their 
election or appointment, as long as they recuse themselves from votes 
that affect the interest of those investments. But the Vodis 
appointment stands out because it is a new company that will require 
federal government approvals to proceed.

"It's different when you are going to become part of a new venture 
where very clearly you are being appointed to that board not only for 
your potential expertise but also because of your position and the 
influence you might have."

As well, if the Liberals take power in 2015 the company could be in a 
position to expand if marijuana is legalized and Vodis decides to tap 
that new market, they noted.

In an interview, Campbell said he's been working for several months 
on contract to help Vodis get established, and said his main 
objective is to get the company a listing on the TSX.

He said his remuneration as a member of the advisory committee will 
be in the form of stock options to buy up to 250,000 Vodis shares at 
40 cents apiece - roughly the current price on the Canadian 
Securities Exchange, which services primarily junior and emerging 
public firms. Campbell said he will not approach Health Canada to 
lobby for the company, and he dismissed any suggestion that he has 
influence with Justin Trudeau's Liberals.

"The Liberal party has nothing to do with me. They don't talk to me, 
I don't talk to them," he said, pointing to Trudeau's decision 
earlier this year to boot senators out of the Liberal caucus.

He dismissed the notion that he's in a conflict.

"If they think that, it's perfectly their right to believe that. 
That's fine. But I don't have to agree," he said. "If anyone has 
followed me over the years, they would certainly know how ridiculous 
that is. I've been advocating this position ( to end marijuana 
prohibition) for well over 20 years. It's common knowledge. And it's 
common knowledge how I would vote."

But he said if he's still with Vodis when and if legislation is 
introduced to decriminalize or legalize pot, he'd consider recusing himself.

The National Post earlier this year singled out Campbell and several 
other senators in an analysis of Canada's 91 senators and their 
outside business interests.

It said they were among more than a third of senators who were 
holding positions on either public or private boards of directors. 
Among those cited as being particularly active were a dozen senators 
who pocketed at least $ 8.25 million over a decade from public 
companies with which they served as directors.

They included Campbell, fellow Liberal appointees Pana Merchant of 
Saskatchewan and James Cowan of Nova Scotia, and Conservative 
appointees Larry Smith of Montreal and the suspended Pamela Wallin of 

Campbell told The Sun Wednesday that he averages about $ 125,000 a 
year in remuneration relating to his role as board member of the 
Great Canadian Gaming Corp., and another $ 36,000 annually through 
his private investigative firm, Mortis Consulting Ltd.

He is also listed as on the board of directors of Asantae, which 
markets nutritional products, and Ecoasis, a land development firm. 
Campbell said he has not been involved with Asantae for close to a 
year and there has been no meeting of Ecoasis panel. Both positions, 
he said, were advisory with no remuneration of any kind.

Campbell appears to be the most active of the five B. C. senators in 
terms of private sector involvement.

Liberal Sen. Mobina Jaffer lists herself as a partner of the 
Vancouver law firm Dohm Jaffer & Jeraj, while Conservative Nancy 
Greene Raine lists her business interests at the Sun Peaks ski resort 
that she and her husband held before her appointment.

Conservatives Yonah Martin and Richard Neufeld didn't list any 
income-producing outside business interests. Neufeld does cite 
ownership of an undisclosed number of shares worth at least $ 10,000, 
in B. B. C. P. Conductor Inc., which does energy research.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom