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Federal Commissioner of Lobbying finally issues rulings after 10 years of delay, but enforcement is still very weak, and lobbying law still has huge loopholes

Set out below is a letter-to-the-editor by Democracy Watch Board member Duff Conacher which was published in the November 4, 2011 edition of the Epoch Times

Finally, 10 years after Democracy Watch filed the complaint against René Fugère for violating federal lobbying rules, he has been found guilty.  Among many other things, this shows just how weak enforcement was by former Registrars of Lobbyists Howard Wilson and Michael Nelson.

And while it is a good step forward that current Commissioner of Lobbying Karen Shepherd has finally released rulings finding Fugère and four other lobbyists guilty of violating lobbying rules, she is still sitting on many other complaints filed years ago, and she has let more than 30 lobbyists off the hook herself instead of finding them guilty (as she could have) of violating the rules (as the Hill Times reported in May, click here to see the article).

As well, there are many loopholes in the Lobbying Act that make secret, unethical lobbying legal, and penalties are weak.  More than 30 lobbyists have exploited the loopholes in the past seven years, and all have been let off the hook.

The question is, will the federal Conservatives finally close these loopholes and strengthen penalties as the Lobbying Act (and loopholes in the related Conflict of Interest Act, and also strengthen enforcement of that Act) are being reviewed by Parliament and the government over the next few months? -- NOTE: the Conservatives promised in their 2006 election platform to close these loopholes -- but they broke their promises)

Oh, and by the way, the same loopholes exist in the lobbying disclosure laws of the six provinces that have such laws (Alberta, B.C. , Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Québec), and in the ethics rules of every province and territory and municipality in Canada (except the City of Toronto, which has closed the loophole that allows for unethical lobbying (but still has the other loopholes)).

For more details, go to Democracy Watch's Government Ethics Campaign and Money in Politics Campaign pages


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