07/12/2012 05:17 EDT | Updated 09/11/2012 05:12 EDT

Liquor Distribution Branch Privatization: B.C. Denies Claim Lobbyists Behind Move

VANCOUVER - The B.C. government denies lobbyists are pushing a plan to privatize the province's Liquor Distribution Branch.

NDP critic Shane Simpson says the plan was never on the government's radar until the province was approached by a company called Exel Logistics, which operates Alberta's liquor distribution system.

The NDP says Exel has ties to lobbyist Patrick Kinsella, who in turn has links to Premier Christy Clark and the Liberal party.

But Labour Minister Margaret MacDiarmid denies the privatization plan has been tainted.

She says before Exel made its pitch the government was already considering privatizating the liquor warehouse business in order to save money as part of a plan to balance its books.

MacDiarmid insists the process to evaluate private bids for the liquor branch will be fair and will be conducted by senior civil servants, not elected government members.

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