than 85 secret, unethical lobbying situations
possible since 2004 -- Commissioner of Lobbying
must disclose secret rulings, and find wrongdoing
lobbyists guilty of violating Lobbyists' Code
Since 2004, secret rulings have let at least
32 lobbyists off the hook because the RCMP and Crown
refused to prosecute -- Commissioner of Lobbying has
failed to rule publicly in all 32 cases that the
lobbyist violated Lobbyists'
Commissioner has also failed to rule publicly
on more than 55 cases since 2004
Since 2004, at least 17 lobbyists have been caught lobbying but let off the hook with secret rulings because of loopholes in the Lobbying Act
Group calls on House Committee to question
Commissioner about cases and rulings on Thursday,
and to recommend closing loopholes and strengthening
enforcement, and calls on Auditor General to audit
Commissioner of Lobbying, RCMP and Crown prosecutors
for weak enforcement of the Act and Code
Monday, February 13, 2012
OTTAWA - Today, Democracy Watch and the national Government Ethics Coalition called on the federal Commissioner of Lobbyists Karen Shepherd to disclose the identities of the 32 lobbyists who have been found violating the Lobbying Act since 2004 but not prosecuted, and to find them guilty of violating the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct (which requires lobbyists to comply with the spirit of the Act), and to issue public rulings on the more than 55 situations that have not been ruled on since 2004 (See Backgrounder below for details about the cases and rulings since 2004).
The Commissioner has disclosed a summary
of 72 cases on her website from April 2004 to March
2011, and in 32 of the cases the lobbyist was found to
have violated the Act,
but was let off the hook by the Commissioner and/or
RCMP and Crown prosecutors. The Commissioner
subsequently failed to find those 32 lobbyists guilty
of violating the Lobbyists'
Code. The 32 lobbyists have never been
identified, nor have public rulings been issued about
The Commissioner has also disclosed charts
that show that 53 cases of administrative reviews, and
nine investigations (for a total of 62 cases), were
not ruled on by the Commissioner from April 2004 to
March 2011. Of the 53 reviews, 29 have been
awaiting rulings since March 2007, almost five
years. Of the nine investigations,
six have been awaiting rulings since March 2008,
almost four years.
Democracy Watch waited until late 2011 and early 2012
-- seven to 10 years total -- for rulings
on five complaints it filed with the Commissioner's
office from 2001 to 2004, an extremely long delay that
the Commissioner acknowledged last March in a letter
(PDF) to Democracy Watch. The five rulings on
Democracy Watch's complaints were part of the backlog
of 62 cases mentioned above, and as a result the
Commissioner still needs to issue public rulings for
more than 55 other outstanding cases.
In addition, in the summary of cases since 2004 on the Commissioner's website are 17 cases in which the lobbyist was found not to have violated the Act because of loopholes that allow for secret, unethical lobbying of the federal government (similar to the situation involving Bruce Carson, former top advisor to Prime Minister Harper).
The House Committee on Access to Information, Privacy
and Ethics is currently reviewing the Act, and to end
this sham enforcement Democracy Watch and the
the Committee last Thursday to recommend strong
changes to close the loopholes in the Act, and to
require the Commissioner and RCMP and Crown
prosecutors to enforce the Act properly (See detailed list of
Democracy Watch called on the House Committee to
question Commissioner Shepherd about the cases, and
the loopholes, when she testifies this Thursday.
Democracy Watch is also calling on the Auditor General to conduct a performance audit of the Commissioner of Lobbying office, and RCMP and Crown prosecutors, similar to that completed for the now disgraced former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner's office, and sent a 12-page letter to Commissioner Shepherd and the Auditor General setting out details and rulings Democracy Watch believes Commissioner Shepherd has been legally required to disclose publicly in the past four years in order to properly perform her duties as an Officer of Parliament.
"Commissioner of Lobbying Karen Shepherd must end the sham enforcement of the federal lobbying law by disclosing the identities of the more than 30 lobbyists who have violated the law since 2004, by finding wrongdoing lobbyists guilty with public rulings, and by issuing public rulings on the more than 55 outstanding cases," said Duff Conacher, Board member of Democracy Watch and Chairperson of the 31-member group, nation-wide Government Ethics Coalition. "Given that this enforcement record is as bad as the former disgraced Integrity Commissioner, the Auditor General must audit the performance of the Commissioner and, after the Auditor reports, the House of Commons should consider the dismissal of the Commissioner."
"Secret, unethical lobbying of the federal government is still legal, even by Cabinet ministers the day after they leave office, and so the lobbying law must changed to close loopholes and strengthen enforcement to finally stop this dangerously undemocratic lobbying by powerful lobbyists," said Conacher. "To end the negligent pattern of enforcement of the federal lobbying law and code, the Commissioner of Lobbying must be required to conduct regular, random audits, and to investigate and rule publicly whenever there are questions about violations, and the Commissioner must be given the power, and required, to fine anyone who violates the law or code, and the Commissioner should not be eligible for a second term in office because that creates an incentive to please the Prime Minister and Cabinet by covering up secret, unethical lobbying."
Shepherd has been with the lobbying enforcement office
since 2004, became acting Commissioner in July 2007,
and full Commissioner in 2008.
- 30 -
To see details about former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner Christiane Ouimet's poor enforcement record, click here
Democracy Watch's Government Ethics Campaign
Democracy Watch's Money in Politics
Democracy Watch homepage
Extremely Weak Enforcement of Lobbying Act
Code of Conduct from 2004-2012
However, Commissioner Shepherd's summary raises as
many questions as it answers. It does not
disclose the identities of lobbyists who have been let
off the hook by the Registrar and Commmissioner and
the RCMP and Crown prosecutors. Commissioner
Shepherd submitted to the Committee a 9-page chart of
the Administrative Reviews her office has completed
since 2004, and a 2-page chart of Investigations both
ongoing and completed.
Even more incredibly, Commissioner Shepherd has
refused for the past month to disclose pages 7-8 of
the chart to Democracy Watch. As well,
Commissioner Shepherd continues to refuse to disclose
whether she has received and rejected other complaints
without conducting an administrative review or
investigation. As a result, the exact total
number of lobbyists let off the hook by Commissioner
Shepherd remains unknown.
Democracy Watch's analysis of the facts and figures
of Commissioner Shepherd's and Registrar Nelson's
records disclosed in March 2011 to the House Committee
(the records cover the time period from April 2004 to
March 18, 2011 -- the statistics since March 2011 are
currently being kept secret by Commissioner Shepherd),
is as follows:
Commissioner of Lobbying Karen Shepherd's weak enforcement record
(NOTE: Democracy Watch urged the Oliphant Commission to recommend strengthening the Commissioner's enforcement in its May 2010 report)
Democracy Watch's opinion is that Commissioner of
Lobbying Karen Shepherd has not been acting properly
as an Officer of Parliament, nor has she been
effectively enforcing the Lobbying Act (Act) and the Lobbyists' Code of
Code), as follows:
Changes needed to ensure transparent and ethical federal government lobbying and to ensure the Commissioner of Lobbying enforces rules effectively
(NOTE: Democracy Watch urged the Oliphant Commission to recommend all of the following changes in its May 2010 report)
© 2012 Democracy Watch