The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.
News

For BC Lib-tied PR Firm, 2013 Was Highly Lucrative

Pace's government contracts, topping $2 million, included smoothing way for Bollywood awards show.

By Bob Mackin 3 Jan 2014 | TheTyee.ca

Vancouver journalist Bob Mackin is a frequent contributor to The Tyee. Find his previous stories published by The Tyee here.

image atom
Premier Christy Clark announced on Jan. 22 that BC taxpayers were on the hook for $9.5 million to host the Times of India Film Awards. The same day, B.C. film workers rallied for government action to help their slumping local industry.

A BC Liberal-allied public relations agency received no-bid contracts to host Times of India executives in late 2012 and act as project coordinator for last April's controversial Bollywood awards, according to documents obtained under Freedom of Information.

Pace Group Communications was hired for $70,000 from a list of pre-qualified companies to coordinate the Times Group's recognizance missions in November and December 2012.

Executives were greeted on arrival Nov. 18, 2012 by Pace general manager Jordan Humphries and Canada-India Business Council director Vivek Savkur. The itinerary for their stay, through Nov. 22, 2012, shows meetings with Premier Christy Clark, then-Tourism minister Pat Bell and his deputy minister Dave Byng, Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts. Finance Minister Mike de Jong hosted a dinner at the posh CinCin Restaurant in Vancouver. The trip also included meetings with B.C. Place Stadium and Surrey Board of Trade executives.

The government agreed Dec. 12, 2012 to pay the Times Group $9.5 million to produce the April 6, 2013 awards show. The event was announced with a glitzy Vancouver Convention Centre news conference on Jan. 22, 2013, hours before more than 3,000 film industry workers rallied at North Shore Studios for government action to rescue the slumping industry.

Pace's initial contract was amended, according to a Dec. 20, 2012 notice of intent, for "an amount not to exceed $250,000." The document said the job was "to continue work related to the Market Outreach Activities." Though the file number was "NOI13-TOIFA-003," the document made no mention of the Times of India Film Awards. It only vaguely stated that "the province is proposing activities in coming months."

More than $2 million in taxpayer funds to Pace

Public Accounts for the year ended March 31, 2013 show Pace received $2,159,519 from the government. Additionally, the company was paid $338,057 for its contract with B.C. Pavilion Corporation that includes, among various duties, issuing news releases about themed lighting displays on the B.C. Place roof.

Elections BC records since 2005 show Pace donated $114,976 to the Liberals. It also gave $1,875 to the NDP in 2012 and 2013. The company worked on Kevin Falcon's unsuccessful 2011 leadership campaign. Founder Norman Stowe has also represented local tycoons Francesco Aquilini and David Ho.

Among the documents also released was the Draft Project Charter dated Feb. 22, 2013 that showed the Times Group agreed to match the government's $9.5 million grant. The document showed the breakdown of the additional $1.5 million for the program, including: $450,000 for a three-minute opening act, $470,000 for a global business forum, $250,000 for advertising/promotion of the event in B.C. and a 30-second commercial for rebroadcast in India, $50,000 for community activation, $200,000 for contracts for the B.C. project team and a $50,000 contingency.

A team of 10 people, headed by assistant deputy minister Grant Mackay, coordinated TOIFA from the government's side. Clark's office was represented by senior outreach coordinator Barinder Bhullar.

The awards drew 35,000 people to B.C. Place on April 6, but the government has not released a financial report showing how many tickets were actually purchased. The NDP criticized TOIFA as a pre-election ethnic campaigning ploy by the Liberals.

Benefits from TOIFA to British Columbians unclear

The day after the event, Clark tweeted that 400 million people had seen the awards, when in fact no air date had been scheduled. Indian rights holder Sony Entertainment TV finally aired TOIFA on June 16, after the finish of cricket season.

The Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Ministry was unable to comment this week because of the holidays. In October, it released a prepared statement: "TOIFA re-runs continue to be broadcast throughout the global Indian diaspora. The province has not been provided with final ratings for TOIFA. We are expecting a final list of air dates from the Times Group once all of the broadcasts have been completed."

The government claimed 6,000 people were employed because of the awards, but that was based on an estimate provided by the promoter. The government is keeping secret two-thirds of the list 45 subcontractors.

Several Mumbai companies were subcontracted, based on companies that were credited in B.C. Place on April 6: WorkThatWorks Entertainment Design, Cineyug Group of CompaniesReliance DigitalSt. Angelo's Professional EducationGenesis Burson-Marsteller and 70 Event Media Group.

The Times Group was also supposed to shoot a Bollywood feature in B.C. called "Kaneda." Also in October, the government said it was not directly involved in the project, which it claimed was in the planning stages for 2014.

No 2014 host has been announced.

B.C. was originally supposed to host the International Indian Film Academy awards, which will be in Tampa Bay, Fla. on April 26, 2014.  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Are You Preparing for the Next Climate Disaster?

Take this week's poll