Inside Politics

UPDATED - Former Tory aide faces first charge laid under Lobbying Act

As reported yesterday on the Fasken Martineau website, former Conservative staffer turned communications strategist Andrew Skaling is the first person to be charged under the lobbying laws brought in by the Conservative government in 2006 as part of its sweeping accountability bill.

According to court records, between June 1, 2010 and January 31, 2011, Skaling -- whose last known business address is in Ottawa, but currently resides in New Brunswick -- is alleged to have "undertaken to communicate with a public office holder on behalf of the Canadian Network of [sic] Respiratory Care for payment," but failed to file the necessary registration papers with the lobbying commissioner, "thereby committing an offence contrary to section 14(1) of the Lobbying Act of Canada."

The charges were filed by the RCMP last January, and the case is due to be heard later this year in Ottawa.

As noted by Fasken Martineau, "the charge is an allegation only and has not been proven in Court [and] further, there is no allegation that Mr. Skaling's client did anything wrong."

A spokesperson for the commissioner's office confirmed the facts as outlined in the initial post, she was unable to provide any additional information on the Skaling case, but offered the following comment on the investigative process:

The Commissioner of Lobbying may choose to look into a matter when the RCMP decides not to proceed. Commissioner Shepherd tables a Report on Investigation in Parliament at the conclusion of her investigation.

Four of these, Graham Bruce, Mark Jiles, GPG, and Keith Beardsley, were referred to the RCMP by the Commissioner. The other files that have been referred to the RCMP by the Commissioner are ongoing or have been ceased. We cannot comment further on these as the Lobbying Act requires that these matters be conducted in private

A search of the lobby registry shows no current registrations for either Skaling or the Canadian Network for Respiratory Care, although the minutes from the December 2010 annual general meeting note that executive director Cheryl Connors reported that CNRC "has retained the services of Skaling Knox Inc., a government relations firm, to advocate on behalf of the organization .. and also to assist in securing financing for the planned smoking cessation certification module."

UPDATE: Just received the following statement from CNRC -- which, interestingly, reveals that it was the organization that first reported 'irregularities in Mr. Skaling's lobbying activities" to the commissioner, and notes that they "continue to support the Government of Canada's active investigation":

The Canadian Network for Respiratory Care (CNRC) entered into a professional relationship with Andrew Skaling from June to December 2010. Mr. Skaling was hired to support CNRC's advocacy activities and government interaction - to increase awareness of patient respiratory education needs across Canada - on behalf of our members. CNRC's certified respiratory educators, who include respiratory therapists, pharmacists, nurses, and physiotherapists, are amongst the hardest-working healthcare professionals in Canada. When the CNRC learned of irregularities in Mr. Skaling's lobbying activities, we immediately reported  to the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada. 

The CNRC continues to support the Government of Canada's active investigation. We support the Government's efforts through the Lobbying Act to ensure transparency and accountability in the engagement of federal public office holders in order to increase Canadians' confidence in the integrity of the government decision-making process. The CNRC is pleased the system works.

Skaling's (presumably self-penned) bio, courtesy of the cache of a now-defunct website for an earlier business venture: 

Andrew Skaling is a seasoned communications professional with over a decade of experience in the private sector, government and politics. One of the two named partners, he was previously President of G-4 Strategic Communications Inc, a successful communications and government relations firm he co-founded five years ago. As a business owner, Mr. Skaling has worked with some of the best and brightest minds in the business. He carries this experience to the next level at McKenney & Skaling with clients in government, the non-profit sector and corporate, domestic and international, sectors.

Prior to becoming a business owner, Mr. Skaling served in a number of senior political positions. Most recently as spokesperson for the Conservative Party of Canada during the 2004 federal election campaign. Prior to the campaign, he served as Director of Media Relations for the Hon Belinda Stronach's bid for the leadership of the Conservative Party. Before leadership politics, Andrew was the Director of Communications for the National Progressive Conservative Caucus, notably during the period when the party merged with Canadian Alliance to become the Conservative Party of Canada. He has also served as a senior advisor on media and communications to two Prime Ministers, Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell and Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, Progressive Conservative Leaders Jean Charest and Peter Mackay, and a number of Senator's, MP's, Ministers and provincial leaders.

Mr. Skaling's experience in government includes a three year stint as Director of Media Relations for the City of Ottawa and several years working with Industry Canada on a number of high profile projects. In the private sector he was Director of Communications for Venture Communications Inc in New Brunswick and Toronto.

As a media and government relations specialist, Mr. Skaling's areas of practice include: Regulatory affairs, international trade, regional and international economic development transportation, telecommunications, broadcasting, health care and natural resources.

Comments are closed.