NEW COALITION LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN FOR STRONGER LOBBYING AND ETHICS LAWS, FILES COMPLAINT WITH ETHICS COUNSELLOR
Monday, September 25, 2000
OTTAWA - Today, as federal Ethics Counsellor Howard Wilson began hosting an international conference on public ethics in Ottawa, and the Industry Committee plans its review of the federal Lobbyists Registration Act, Democracy Watch launched its new Government Ethics Coalition at a news conference, supported by 30 other citizen groups from across Canada representing over two million Canadians (List of Coalition member groups). The Coalition launched its campaign by filing a complaint with Wilson about Industry Canada's membership in BIOTECanada, the registered lobbying association for the Canadian biotechnology industry (Contact Democracy Watch for a copy of letter).
Industry Canada's membership in BIOTECanada reveals many of the problems with current federal lobbying and ethics rules, and lack of enforcement of those rules. The membership of the federal department headed by Minister John Manley (who is also responsible for the federal lobbying law) in an association whose main purpose is to lobby the department shows that ethics rules are not well understood nor regarded by public officials, or the association. And Howard Wilson, as Ethics Counsellor, cannot investigate such situations impartially or effectively because he reports in private to the Prime Minister and therefore lacks independence and effective investigatory powers.
"The federal Ethics Counsellor is a lapdog of the Prime Minister," said Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch. "The Liberals should keep, finally, their long-standing promise to set up an independent ethics watchdog to ensure federal ethics rules are effectively enforced."
"The government's membership in BIOTECanada is another example of the inside access and influence enjoyed by corporate lobbyists," said Angela Rickman, Deputy Director, Sierra Club of Canada, "Lobbying rules need to be strengthened to reduce the undue influence of lobbyists."
In addition to the establishment of an independent ethics watchdog, the Coalition is also calling for the following measures, among others, to strengthen federal lobbying and ethics rules (Full List of 19 Recommendations):
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FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO OBTAIN A COPY OF THE LETTER, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Coordinator
Tel: (613) 241-5179