VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The BC NDP is throwing a wrench in the province’s plans to private liquor distribution.

The party claims the government didn’t want to change the system, but is doing it to please a company that has close ties to the BC Liberals.

In an Freedom of Information request, the New Democrats obtained documents showing the government wasn’t interested in privatizing, but was having discussions with a company that was.

“It appears that the only group who has actively pursued it is Excel. We also know that there have been serious questions raised about perception, because of the relationship [with] Excel,” explains NDP MLA Shane Simpson.

“It has become clear that this looks like one interest lobbying and it looks like excel logistics group,” he adds.

Simpson says the NDP didn’t know about these discussions. He is calling on the province to stop the process immediately, comparing this quick change of heart to the the HST and the sale of BC Rail.

The province is expected to choose which bidder gets the contract next week.

BC Government reaction to the NDP’s claims

Labour Minister Margaret MacDiarmid says she is still confident in the process to privatizing liquor distribution. “I’ve had direct conversations with the deputy [minister], where I have been assured there was no outside influence in the writing of this RFP [Request For Proposals], that government considered what its goals were and then went ahead with that process and developed the RFP and put it out there.”

MacDiarmid says none of the companies bidding for the deal had anything to do with writing the request for proposals.

“The reason for going forward with this, the very clear reason, is that we believe that an outside proponent, that someone in the private sector, can do this just as efficiently, if not more efficiently, and at lower costs to government, which means lower costs to taxpayers.”

She insists the government was looking at it before Exel Logistics, with its ties to the Liberal Party, made its case.

“There was a direction from government to our staff to look at whether distribution could be operated outside and to look the possibilities of it being done more effectively and efficiently and the advice back to us was yes, the belief was that a private sector company or group of companies could potentially do this at lower cost.”

She says if it turns out the winning bidder for the deal can’t save the province money, they won’t do it.