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Just a Small Detail

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(Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

What a curious omission.

Yesterday, CBC contacted the office of Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt to ask about the lobbyist who helped organize a fundraiser on her behalf on Sept. 24.

Michael B. McSweeney is vice-president of the Cement Association of Canada. 

Both he and the association are registered with the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada.  And a search of the registry shows that on Sept. 24, the Cement Association reported having lobbied Raitt directly. 

In an email to Raitt's new communications wrangler Jocelyne Turner, CBC News asked for more information about McSweeney's involvement in the fundraiser, as well as whether McSweeney was paid for his services.

Turner responded with a written statement that was almost identical to what Government House Leader Jay Hill read in the House of Commons yesterday while answering a question from Liberal MP Paul Szabo.

It started off with the usual statements about taking these allegations seriously and went on to say: "Minister Raitt is committed to working with the Ethics Commissioner and is cooperating fully. The Minister will abide by any ruling by the Commissioner. 

"The issue is now being examined by the Ethics Commissioner and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further."

Today, while perusing the latest online edition of a local newspaper in Raitt's riding, the Milton Canadian Champion, I noticed a story about how on Oct. 9, Raitt signed off on an "agreed compliance measure" to steer clear of any matters involving the Cement Association of Canada or McSweeney.  

How odd that detail wasn't mentioned by Jay Hill or Jocelyne Turner in answering questions about Raitt yesterday. I followed up with Turner to ask why she omitted that detail in her email yesterday. She insists it was not an omission. "It is a publicly disclosed statement.  This was information available to any reporting agency making inquiries."

The only way one can find Raitt's agreed compliance measure is by conducting a specific search on the "reporting public office holders" section on Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner's website.