Lobbying Registry Update

March 23rd, 2020

I am very pleased to report that a Member of Parliament has blown a gasket.  I mean this in the best possible way.

Waaay back in November of last year, I posted an article about the Federal Lobbying Registry.  I noted that the Registry is required at law to investigate false filings, or those of questionable appearance, and that we had requested an investigation into the curious and questionable, and not in any reasonable sense plausible, filings of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

As promised in that article; “we’ll report what corrective action took place, if any”. 

Here’s what happened…..

First, we notified a Member of Parliament (MP) about our experience with the Lobbying Registry.  I’ll not divulge the MP’s name just yet, just to give this MP space to work with.

In early January, we had an extensive meeting with this MP, updating this person on the CSA issues, the evidence particulars before the Lobbying Registry, and noting the Registry’s non-responses to our inquiries.

Well, said the MP, the Registry will surely have to deal with a Member of Parliament. 

Well, said I, we’ll see about that.

And we did.

The MP was making regular calls to the Lobbying Registry throughout January and February of this year and yet, to universal astonishment, nobody at the Registry was ever available to take the MP’s call.  Indeed, the MP was always sent to voicemail.  None of these voicemails were ever returned.

At the same time, this MP was also working through the office of Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.  The MP was requesting a meeting with the Minister or his staff to discuss the CSA matter and the growing problems and costs of Manson’s Law.

Strangely, the MP was never able to reach anyone in the Minister’s Office.  Everyone was too busy to pick up the phone when the MP called.  Indeed, the MP was always sent to voicemail.  None of these voicemails were ever returned.

Then the MP called me, regaled me about it.  We commiserated.

I recalled an episode of the comedy / unintended documentary; Yes Minister.  The character of the Minister had come across some political sensitive information and, as he decided;

“I’m going to tell the prime minister.”

Why?

“This is definitely the sort of thing the Prime Minister wants to know about.”

Said his staff;  “I can assure you Minister, this is just the sort of thing the Prime Minister desperately wants not to know about.”

And so it is with Bains. 

If as Minister, Navdeep Bains were to meet with the MP to discuss the CSA scandal, then Bains knows about the scandal.  And worse, he’d then have to do something about it.  In contrast, ignorance of the problem obviates the need for any action at all.  No meeting means no knowledge, hence his unavailability even to answer the phone.

Another point to consider;  Minister Bains sits in Parliament, just like the MP trying to reach him.  The Minister ensures that he arrives in the House once proceedings are underway, so there’s no opportunity during setup for the MP to walk across the isle and ask him anything.

So to protect a crooked civil service Agency, the Lobbying Registry is ignoring the entreaties of a Member of Parliament, ignoring requests for meetings, refusing to acknowledge or return phone calls, and otherwise behaving as though they have no accountabilities to Parliament whatsoever. 

Likewise, the Minister responsible is responsibly dealing with his responsibility by being unavailable, unhelpful, and as happily unaware as he can arrange.

Here’s where we get to the MP and the blown gasket bit.

Eventually, in March of this year, the MP wrote Minister Bains a letter, first outlining the difficulties experienced in reaching him, then;

“I write you today, as this matter is progressing to a point where serious and irreversible implications will result without your intervention.”

The MP then speaks of Manson’s Law, “which I believe most Canadians would consider to be a serious abuse of Canadian legislative and regulatory process and reporting”

Rough language.  Then;  “The increasingly onerous payments required to access Government publications are allegedly landing with the myriad companies connected to a Government Agency – and rewards are being distributed amongst the associated officials”.

That’s criminal.  An MP is formally advising a Cabinet Member of ongoing financial crimes taking place within his Department.

“However, THE URGENT ACTION REQUIRED is to [pause legal processes] until we have some light shed on this matter.”  Then he asks again for a meeting to discuss “a course of action that will meet our obligations as elected officials”.

The all-caps, by the way, are in the original letter.  This is about as aggressive as an MP can be with a Minister of the Crown.  Writing like this is a bridge-burning exercise.  It’s only really done when one has nothing left to lose.

So what happened?

Nothing, obviously.  Nothing happened.  The Minister hasn’t even acknowledged that the letter was receipted by his office.  Right now, the Minister can claim that he knows nothing about the letter or the file it refers to.

This, my friends, is what happens in government.  It’s also why CSA can be so confident of getting away with every dirty thing they do. 

Well, we’re working this file pretty hard but you should know the challenges by now. 

If you feel so inclined, and rather than writing an article to explain it, Yes Minister did a lovely clip of about four minutes explaining what happens if a Minister like Bains approached the Prime Minister about a political liability like CSA.  Enjoy.