POLITICS

Lobbying firm with ties to former Alberta Tory government goes left for advice

06/08/2015 04:17 EDT | Updated 06/08/2016 05:59 EDT
EDMONTON - A lobbying firm that had close ties to the former Alberta Progressive Conservatives political dynasty is going to left field for advice.

The Canadian Strategy Group says it has hired former Canadian Labour Congress president Ken Georgetti and former British Columbia NDP party president Moe Sihota as "strategic counsel."

The group's co-founder, Hal Danchilla, says the two men will help the Edmonton-based company's existing clients and deal with social organizations, the not-for-profit-sector, environmental groups and unions.

"If you take a look at what Ken and Moe are bringing to the table, it is an area that we, frankly, are lacking in," Danchilla said Monday.

"We are looking forward to them helping educate me and everyone else in the firm as well and from time to time giving advice to clients."

Danchilla's ties to the Alberta PCs go back to the early 1990s when Ralph Klein became party leader and premier. He said Georgetti and Sihota were not hired specifically to help his strategy group interact with Alberta's new NDP government.

Premier Rachel Notley has shown throughout her political career that she is open to people, said Danchilla, and he is confident that she will not run what he called a "closed shop."

The NDP under Notley won a majority in the May 5 provincial election to end almost 44 years of Tory government.

"We are not worried about access. We are worried about the nuances, and those people (Georgetti and Sihota) can teach me about how that works."

Sihota served in a number of cabinet posts in B.C. NDP governments between 1991 and 2000.

Georgetti was president of the CLC between 1999 and 2014 and is a former president of the B.C. Federation of Labour.

Other people at Canadian Strategy Group with ties to former Alberta PC governments include Michael Lohner, who worked as chief of staff in three departments, and Ron Liepert, a former minister of finance, energy and health.

Last month, Sally Housser, who served as Notley's press secretary during the election campaign, was hired away from her job as deputy director of cabinet communications for Manitoba's NDP government.