Times Colonist

Island lobbyist broke rules: Ottawa

Commission­er finds five Canadians engaged in unregister­ed lobbying

- PETER O’NEIL

OTTAWA — Former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister Graham Bruce has been found in violation of the federal code of conduct relating to his work on behalf of the Cowichan Indian Band.

Karen Shepherd, Ottawa’s lobbying commission­er, found Bruce and four others who operated as unregister­ed lobbyists in breach of the code’s provisions relating to profession­alism, the requiremen­t to provide accurate informatio­n, and the responsibi­lity for lobbyists to disclose obligation­s.

Shepherd’s report Tuesday said the investigat­ion was prompted in part by a report by Postmedia News in 2007 relating to Bruce’s lobbying work on behalf of the Cowichan band.

Bruce told investigat­ors his $16,666-a-month contract with the band meant he was an employee and therefore exempt from the federal act.

But Shepherd said she didn’t accept that argument and concluded he was acting as a lobbyist when he set up meetings with former Tory ministers Emerson, Chuck Strahl and Gary Lunn.

The report singled out B.C. lobbyist Mark Jiles, saying he was in violation of the federal code of conduct while lobbying then-foreign affairs minister David Emerson’s office in 2006 about getting his client Olympic-related business.

Shepherd cleared Jiles’s business partner, longtime political organizer Patrick Kinsella, of NDP allegation­s that he was also engaged in unregister­ed lobbying of federal officials.

Shepherd, who stressed that lobbying is legal as long as activities are fully disclosed, said her investigat­ion proves there are “consequenc­es” for those who engage in unregister­ed lobbying even though no fines or jail terms are involved.

“A lobbyist’s reputation is, I think, important in terms of their ability to maintain and attract clients,” she said.

In 2008, when the NDP raised the allegation that Emerson’s office was engaged in meetings with unregister­ed lobbyists acting for Washington state, the Conservati­ves dismissed the criticism.

Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore said at the time that neither he nor Emerson met with the lobbyists in question.

A spokesman for Moore said the minister would not comment on the matter, since it is an issue under the mandate of Treasury Board Minister Tony Clement.

There was no immediate reply to an email sent to Clement’s communicat­ions director.

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