Island lobbyist broke rules: Ottawa
Commissioner finds five Canadians engaged in unregistered lobbying
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.