Ron Liepert's new lobbying job is raising eyebrows and has critics calling for the ethics commissioner to investigate.
He’s only been out of office for four months but the former provincial Tory cabinet minister says he sees nothing wrong with taking a job with an Edmonton-based lobbying firm, despite regulations that state otherwise.
Rules governing conflict of interest matters state that politicians departing office must wait one year before offering their services as a lobbyist, but Liepert told The Edmonton Sun he’s not doing anything wrong because the rules state his prospective clients would have had to have had “significant’ dealings in order to breach the cooling-off period.
“There’s certainly nothing unethical about it — by law I’m prohibited from dealing with companies that had, quote, ‘significant official dealings’ end of quote, with the portfolios I held in the last year,” he told The Sun.
Hal Danchilla, Principal of Canadian Strategy Group, the firm Liepert will be lobbying with, backed Liepert’s stance and told the CBC the company is working to ensure no rules are not broken.
"We certainly understand what the lobby registry rules are," Danchilla told the CBC.
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But that reasoning is not flying with the opposition Wildrose Party, who are calling for the ethics commissioner to step in.
"We see this as a blatant conflict of interest,” Wildrose MLA Shayne Saskiw told Global Edmonton.
“After 41 years, it seems you have to be a PC insider to get access to government.”
And just because something may not be outright illegal, doesn’t make it right, argues Saskiw.
“It’s hard to believe that Liepert would not use high placed connections with long-time PC insiders to not lobby the government he has been part of for decades,” he tells The Sun.
“Liepert has a close relationship with the premier and this government. We hope the ethics commissioner takes a closer look at this case.”
Liepert was formerly Tory minister of education, energy, health and finance.
As minster of health, Liepert was the minister responsible for dismantling the province’s nine regional helath authorities and building the current super board.
Former agriculture minister Evan Berger was appointed to become the senior advisor to the deputy minister of agriculture, creating controversy that his political stature got him the high paying job.
Canadian politician Gary Mar stirred emotions most recently when he hosted a lavish fundraiser, allegedly to recoup some of the costs of his $2.7 million campaign to become Alberta's next premier. At the time, Mar was Alberta's diplomatic envoy to Asia and is accused of promoting the dinner as a chance for business leaders to learn more about potential partnerships with Asia. He was also accused of conflict of interest when he allegedly paid nearly $400,000 (of taxpayer dollars) to a executive assistant with no work to show for it.
Former Calgary mayor Dave Bronconnier moved on to become Alberta's trade envoy to the United States. A pretty sweet job we think.
Former provincial level politician from Alberta, Smith is now lobbying on behalf of Talisman Energy.
Michael Lohner, former Executive Assistant to an Alberta Minister, is now principal and founder of Canadian Strategy Group, a group that assists organizations shape public policy. Lohner has been a lobbyist for sectors including Energy and the Environment including renewable fuel standards and renewable energy credit programs.
Pamela Cholak worked in various positions with the Government of Alberta, including policy advisor and executive assistant to the Minister of Energy. She is now a lobbyist for Abbott Laboratories, a global health care company.