Inside Politics

NDP want committee to look for loopholes in lobby law

Unsatisfied, it seems, to move on entirely from the now seemingly resolved controversy over former Security Intelligence Review Committee chair Chuck Strahl's side gig lobbying the BC government on behalf of Enbridge, the New Democrats want the House ethics committee to take a good, long look at whether the current post-employment restrictions imposed on departed ministers and political staffers are sufficiently stringent.

Here's the full text of the motion, which is slated to hit the committee to-do list on Thursday:

That, in relation to the cases of previous designated public office holders Ted Menzies, Vic Toews, and Chuck Strahl and their current lobbying activities, in relation to previous ministry staff such as Dave Forestell and Adam Blinick and their current lobbying activities, and pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(h)(vi), the Committee undertake a study on whether government initiatives including proper protocols and legal obligations were fulfilled in these cases;

That the study include whether current protocols and legislative obligations are sufficient oversight and restrictions for these activities;

That the Committee invite the Lobbying Commissioner to take part in the study to discuss her expertise and recommendations on the broader issues brought up by these cases;

That the Committee invite the individuals in these cases as well as the appropriate governmental officials to explain governmental protocols in relation to lobbying activities and that the Committee report its findings back to the House.

Now, it's worth noting that none of the former designated public officers named in the motion are currently engaged in "lobbying activities" of the federal and registrable variety.

As noted above, Strahl is concentrating his efforts on provincial lobbying endeavours, as, it seems, is Vic Toews, while Ted Menzies is president and CEO of pesticide industry association CropLife Canada.

As for the ex-staffers, Dave Forestell was chief of staff to Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver until last summer, when he took what turned out to be a brief tenure at the Conservative Party, and is now working as director of government relations at Barrick Gold.

Meanwhile, Adam Blinick served as deputy chief of staff at Public Safety until last fall, when he jumped to the private sector as a senior advisor at Teck Resources.

All five men are still covered by the five-year ban on federal lobbying.

Still, given the kerfuffle surrounding Strahl's double duty, it's not surprising the New Democrats would want to take a closer look at the rules, just to make sure that the principles that led the Conservatives to campaign on a tough-on-lobbying accountability platform in 2006 haven't inadvertently fallen through a crack in the text. 

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