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Pharmaceuticals firm lines up meetings with NDP

Gilenya, a drug produced by CNW Group/Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.


The next B.C. election is at least a year away and the outcome is as predictable as the weather. But Switzerland-based drug company Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada is already seeking out meetings with the front bench of the New Democratic Party.

The February listing of who's lobbying who, posted online by the B.C. Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists, shows that Novartis was to meet with eight NDP members, including the party's health critic Mike Farnworth, deputy health critic Sue Hammell and finance critic Bruce Ralston.

Marcella Munro, a principal of Earnscliffe Strategy Group representing Novartis, said Thursday in an interview that the list was "a work in progress." When filing with the registrar, the lobbying firm listed everyone who might be contacted so that it's not necessary to re-file additional reports after each visit.

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Ms. Munro has worked as a communication strategist for the NDP in several federal and provincial campaigns in B.C. She was communication director for Gregor Robertson's successful election campaign last year and co-chaired the Vision Vancouver municipal election campaign in 2008.

The current round of meetings with NDP MLAs was to introduce Novartis, she said. "It is, here they are, here is what they do, here is their interest in [research and development]" Ms. Munro said. "You are just trying to get to know some of the people in the front bench. It is important work to be doing right now in British Columbia because these people could be in cabinet."

In January, Ms. Munro registered as a lobbyist arranging meetings with NDP members for LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services and for the Health Sciences Association of B.C. Representatives of LifeLabs were to meet with four NDP members to discuss the company's role "in providing laboratory testing and the provincial lab information solution." The health sciences union, with 16,000 members, was to meet with seven NDP members to talk about innovation and promotion of good health.

Ms. Munro in the past year has also arranged meetings with NDP members for GlaxoSmithKline and the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia, according to records in the lobbyists registry.

Lobbyists for 10 companies and organizations involved in pharmaceuticals or health care registered in February with the provincial government agency.

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