Canadian Lobby

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Canadian Lobby

In a newscast of Radio-Canada [1] and of the CBC, we learn that the Co-chairman of Justin Trudeau’s campaign has 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...»[2] One can wonder why a high-ranking «volunteer» of the Liberal Party would freely give advice to the management of TransCanada Pipelines.

Even though he finally resigned, the Liberal party’s first reaction was to defend Mr. Gagnier’s questionable behavior. According to Le Devoir, «…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…» [3 (my translation)] On the other hand, he did give advice of his own free will to lobbyists of the petroleum industry!

Does this denial 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 Edelmann were leaked to Greenpeace. Once more, when there is a public furor, the guilty party retires from the limelight.

Whether the next government be grit or tory, volunteers such as Mr Gagnier will give advice to the fossil fuel lobby on how to influence the government for the benefit of 1% 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 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%, I am dreaming that a high ranking volunteer of the next government would give me advice on how to influence the next Prime Minister who will negotiate next December’s Paris Conference and the necessary reduction of GHG(greenhouse gases). Unfortunately, that is only a dream!

Gérard Montpetit

October 17, 2015