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Who Do Citizens Get To Lobby?

10/26/2015 12:10 EDT | Updated 10/26/2016 05:12 EDT
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In a newscast of Radio-Canada, published shortly before the federal elections, and of the CBC, we learned that the former co-chairman of Justin Trudeau's campaign sent an email: "...a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press, Gagnier advises five TransCanada Corp. officials to target the right people in a new government as quickly as possible so they can help shape either Liberal or NDP decisions on a national energy strategy."

One can wonder why a high-ranking "volunteer" of the Liberal Party's organization would freely give advice to the management of TransCanada Pipelines, just a few days before the elections.

Even though he finally resigned, the Liberal party's first reaction was to defend Mr. Gagnier's questionable behavior. According to Le Devoir (my translation), "The Liberal Party repeated that Mr. Gagnier acted according to the rules. Earlier in the day, they emphasized the fact that Mr. Gagnier did not give advice to Justin Trudeau on questions of energy." On the other hand, he did give advice of his own free will to lobbyists of the petroleum industry!

Does this early denial of a possible breach of ethical considerations have any credibility? After all, Mr. Gagnier has had a long career in politically sensitive jobs. Among other things, he was chief of staff for Premier Jean Charest and held a post in the Privy Council under Prime Minister Mulroney. When you have that kind of job, you are not supposed to be naive enough to believe in Santa Claus!

Some managers of TransCanada are dreaming that Energy East would be as important during the 21st century as the transcontinental railroad had been in the early days of the Confederation. To achieve that goal, they are willing to use dirty tricks as we have seen last year when the public relation plans of the firm Edelman were leaked to Greenpeace. Once more, when there is a public furor, the guilty party retires from the limelight.

Whether the government be grit or Tory, behind the scenes party organizers such as Mr. Gagnier will give advice to the fossil fuel lobby on how to influence the government for the benefit of 1 per cent of the population. The implication of Mr. Gagnier's email would seem to show an incestuous relationship between politicians, high ranking bureaucrats and "Big Oil." Instead of the standard definition of democracy, are we, in effect, dealing with government of the petroleum lobby, by the petroleum lobby and for the sole benefit of the petroleum lobby?

As a member of the minority of 99 per cent, I am dreaming that a high ranking volunteer of the new government would give me advice on how to influence the newly-elected Prime Minister who will negotiate next December's Paris Conference and the necessary reduction of greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, that is only a dream!

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