Five men who took money to influence federal government officials on behalf of their clients – sometimes to obtain loans or grants, sometimes to further business interests and sometimes to sway decision making – have been found guilty of violating the code that governs lobbyists.
Some of the rulings issued Tuesday by Karen Shepherd, the federal Commissioner of Lobbying relate to files that date back a decade or more.
In two of the cases – those involving Mark Jiles and Graham Bruce – Ms. Shepherd began looking into breaches of the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct only after the RCMP had conducted its own investigation under the Lobbyists Registration Act and determined there were grounds to lay charges.
There are no penalties associated with violations of the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct.
As to why the investigations have taken so long in some cases, Ms. Shepherd said she inherited many files when she became the lobbying commissioner in 2009.
There were court cases associated with some of these files as well as the referrals to the RCMP that impeded their progress, she said. Even so, said Ms. Shepherd, “I think there is something to the fact that these reports do need to come out in a more timely fashion and that is something I am very committed to and am working on to make sure that happens.”
René Fugère and André Nollet
Mr. Fugère was an unpaid aide to former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien and the president of the Quorum Corporation, which was hired in 1998 by Scierie Opitciwan, a softwood lumber company in Quebec, to obtain grants from the federal government. Mr. Nollet was Mr. Fugère’s business partner.
Mr. Fugère and Mr. Nollet communicated with government officials on behalf of their client. After two refusals, Scierie Optciwan received a grant of $300,000 from the Human Resources department and an additional $2.1-million repayable contribution from Canada Economic Development for the regions of Quebec.
Quorum was paid more than $90,000 in consultancy fees but neither Mr. Fugère nor Mr. Nollet registered as lobbyists. Mr. Nollet told the lobbying commission that he was unaware of the requirements of the Lobbyists Registration Act.
Mr. Ballard was the president of Consultations Biocosme PBS Inc., a Quebec-based management consultant firm that specialized in biotechnology. He was hired in 2000 by Intellivax International Inc., which was looking for funds from Technology Partnerships Canada (TPC) for a project involving vaccine production.
Mr. Ballard communicated with TPC officials on behalf of the company and was described as the primary TPC contact on the Intellivax file. He also helped write the company’s proposal for funds and arranged a meeting between Intellivax and the granting officials.
Intellivax was awarded $5,938,680 in funding from the TPC and Mr. Ballard was paid $229,771.89 for his work on the file. He was never registered as a lobbyist.
Mr. Jiles was a Vancouver-based consultant with a lobbying firm called the Progressive Group and another firm called the Blue Stone Group but did not register as a lobbyist.
The Progressive Group was hired in 2006 and 2007 by the State of Washington to find business opportunities related to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. One of the company’s jobs was to build strong relationships within senior political and Olympic circles. For that, it received nearly $50,000.
The Blue Stone Group was retained by the Motion Picture Industry Association of British Columbia between 2005 and 2007 to persuade the provincial government to extend its foreign tax credits and to persuade Ottawa to drop its plan to tax residual profits on motion pictures made in Canada. Mr. Jiles was also paid for those services.
Mr. Bruce is a former B.C. provincial cabinet minister who was defeated in 2005 and went on to run a company called Granneke Management and Consulting Services.
Granneke was hired by the Cowichan Indian Band in 2005 to secure government funding to help stage the 2008 North American Indigenous Games. It also was retained to assist in treaty negotiations including the land, compensation and funding arrangements.
Mr. Bruce communicated with at least five public office holders, attended a number of meetings on behalf of the Cowichan, and arranged meetings for his clients. He was never registered as a lobbyist but Granneke received fees of up to $16,666 per month from the first nation.