Find a job
Oil & Gas
Best of Bush
Leave a message
Lawsuit dogs mining expo organizer
By Andrew Livingstone
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, January 10, 2009
Protec's website offered exhibitors "unprecedented exposure to all purchasing agents representing the current and future diamond mines throughout the NWT."
The website showed floor plans for a "Civic Centre" with spaces available in "Hall A" and "Hall B" while exhorting potential exhibitors to hurry up and book a booth because spaces were filling up quickly.
Indoor booths were advertised for between $1,295 and $1,995 while outdoor booths ranged from $3,600 to $12,000.
That all came to an end Friday, however, after News/North sent Pearson an e-mail requesting an interview about the expo and his involvement with a trade show that went bust in Red Deer, Alta. in May 2008. Pearson didn't call back but a couple hours later the advertisement for the Multiplex expo on Protec's website was gone, replaced instead with a "cancelled" notice.
After reviewing the expo website before the cancelled sign went up, Mayor Gord Van Tighem said his interest was piqued, adding he planned to look into things a little further.
Van Tighem said the city will scrutinize promoters if necessary.
"If suspicions are raised there would be some checking but other than that it's a matter of a booking facility, we don't do credit checks," Van Tighem said.
"A mining show is something we would see as acceptable in a city facility."
When told the event was cancelled Friday afternoon, the city's special events coordinator Beth Lenardon said Protec had yet to cancel its booking at the Multiplex, for which the city has yet to be paid.
Mike Vaydik, president of the NWT/Nunavut Chamber of Mines, said Thursday that he had heard about the mining expo last week.
"I've checked with th city and the place is booked and we don't really have any concerns," Vaydik said.
He said he was aware of Pearson's problems in Red Deer but declined to talk about it.
Vaydik did add, however, that the floor plans shown on the Protec website didn't resemble anything at the Multiplex.
It remains uncertain how many exhibitors signed up for the expo and who they are.
Hotel files suit
The Capri Hotel and Convention Centre in Red Deer is currently suing Pearson for non-payment following last year's two-day Rig Expo when only 22 visitors showed up on the first day.
Alica Fiske, accounting manager for Capri Hotel, would not comment about the lawsuit but did say the hotel is seeking payment for the rental of the convention centre. Fiske would not give a specific amount on what Pearson owed the hotel but did give a general idea of what it would cost to rent the convention centre.
"Cost would depend on the event, but up to $5,000 per day to rent," Fiske said.
Pearson charged exhibitors at least $2,000 to purchase booths at the Red Deer expo.
In an interview with the Red Deer Advocate after the event, Pearson said his company made $130,000 in gross sales but due to expenses preparing for the show he was broke and could not provide refunds to the oil industry exhibitors Ė some of whom had travelled to Red Deer from as far away as Texas.
Pearson wrote in a letter to the Advocate stating that he feared for his safety after some exhibitors became angry with him. Gord Derouin, advertising director for the Advocate, said Pearson booked $9,600 in advertisements prior to the event for which they have yet to be paid.
"It was actually a last minute booking," Derouin said. "He gave me his credit card number but said not to run it through until later. My radar didn't go off and I've been in this business for a long time. We've chased him and we're not going to get any money."
The only contact number the Red Deer newspaper had for Pearson, a British Columbia listing, is no longer in service.
RCMP Const. Chris Fry of the Red Deer RCMP said police received a complaint on May 28, 2008, the first day of the Rig Expo. Their investigation concluded that charges could not be laid because Pearson had fulfilled his end of the bargain by providing a venue and advertising and any outstanding issues would have to be brought before a civil court.
Pearson is also organizing an expo slated for April 24-26 in Calgary, Alta called the Go Green Live Well Expo. The website promoting the event provides a list of sponsors, with rankings of gold and silver. The Packaging Association of Canada is listed as a gold sponsor for the event, but Chris Turner, communications director for the organization, said the association had no contact with Pearson and were surprised to see their name listed on the website.
"We're not involved in this expo in any capacity," Turner said.
On Friday, the sponsors section of the Go Green website was removed.
An official with the City of Calgary said they had no information about the event and none of her directors or managers knew anything about it.