British Columbia

Stockwell Day skirting lobbying laws, says critic

Former B.C. MP and Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day has set up a political consulting business that one critic charges could come close to lobbying — which would be illegal for anyone who's recently been a member of the government.
Former cabinet minister Stockwell Day's new website states that his new consulting business is not a lobbying firm. Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press

Former B.C. MP and Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day has set up a political consulting business that one critic charges could come close to lobbying — which would be illegal for anyone who's recently been a member of the government.

Day's website, stockwellday.com, was at one time an information port for his role as the member from Okanagan-Coquihalla.

Now the same web address has been re-labelled as "Stockwell Day Connex," Day's new business venture in consulting.

The site says the 25-year politician can help an organization "navigating the labyrinth of government," and "create clear and concise government relations strategies."

The site also features a disclaimer that the company is not a lobbying firm and won't "provide insider information" gleaned from Day's roles as minister in a number of different cabinet portfolios.

But Democracy Watch's Duff Conacher said that's likely what clients would be looking for. 

"That's exactly why people would hire them," said Conacher. "Why would anyone hire one of these people [and] pay them $300 to $500 an hour for advice on how the government works that they could read in a textbook?"

Many loopholes

Canada's anti-corruption laws say former cabinet ministers can't be lobbyists for five years after they leave politics.

But Conacher said the laws are riddled with loopholes, aren't enforced and carry no penalties.

Conacher said it's possible for former cabinet ministers to skirt the rules by being paid for advising companies, while quietly lobbying for free — although he did not say that's what Day was doing.

Conacher said there's no ban on cabinet ministers leaving government and telling people how government works, based on their experience, and he doesn't believe there should be.

"But the real question is, why would anyone hire them to learn what anyone can learn, which is how government works generally?"

With files from the CBC's Jackie Sharkey

now