Inside Politics

Lobbying watchdog hands down first ever suspension

Hot off the lobbying watchdog presses comes word that former Conservative aide turned public policy persuader-for-hire Andrew Skaling has been hit with the first ever lobbying prohibition in Canadian history, and has been officially banished from engaging in any such activity for a grand total of four months.

Longtime readers will recall that over the summer, Skaling became the first person ever to be convicted under the Lobbying Act when he pleaded guilty to having failed to file the necessary paperwork on behalf of New Brunswick-based non-profit health group seeking federal support for an anti-smoking program - an oversight for which the court fined him $7,500.

According to the accompanying news release, after taking into account both the fine and the fact that this was his first offence, Lobbying Commissioner Karen Shepherd - who could have banned Skaling from lobbying for up to two years -- concluded that the relatively short suspension was "sufficient," and "reflects the seriousness of the offence."

No further action on the matter is planned.

As for Skaling, he'll be able to return to the advocacy beat early next year. The suspension is scheduled to expire on January 16, 2014.

Here's the full text of the prohibition:

In 2011, the Commissioner of Lobbying received a complaint concerning alleged unregistered lobbying activities undertaken by Mr. Andrew Skaling. An investigation by the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying revealed that Mr. Skaling had failed to register an undertaking to perform consultant lobbying activities on behalf of a non-profit organization -- the Canadian Network of Respiratory Care (CNRC). The matter was referred to the RCMP and following the RCMP investigation, a charge was laid against Mr. Skaling on January 29, 2013. The subsequent prosecution of Mr. Skaling resulted in a guilty plea on July 31, 2013. Mr. Skaling was sentenced to a fine of $7,500 pursuant to subsection 14(1) of the Lobbying Act.

The Commissioner has the authority under section 14.01 of the Lobbying Act to prohibit a person found guilty of an offence under the Act from engaging in registrable lobbying activity for a period of up to two years in duration.

The Commissioner considered a number of factors regarding Mr. Skaling's offence and determined that a prohibition from registrable lobbying activity for a period of four months was an appropriate length of time. As a result, Mr. Skaling is prohibited from engaging in registrable lobbying activity under the Lobbying Act for a period of four months from September 16, 2013.

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