The Prime Minister’s former Quebec adviser has moved into a new job at Earnscliffe Strategy Group, an Ottawa public-affairs firm that offers a number of services to its clients, including lobbying.
Former MP and ambassador André Bachand, who was the Quebec adviser in the Prime Minister’s Office until the summer, is prevented from lobbying federal officials for five years under the Harper government’s Accountability Act. However, he will still be able to provide strategic advice to the firm’s clients.
“We’re in the business of analysis, advice, strategy,” Earnscliffe partner Yaroslav Baran said. “What can [Mr. Bachand] do, what will he do? The sky’s the limit on somebody with his talent and perspective to be able to advise clients.”
Mr. Bachand was a Progressive Conservative MP from 1997 to 2004. He was Canada’s ambassador to UNESCO from 2009 to 2011, after he ran and failed to win a seat for the Conservative Party of Canada in the 2008 general election. He was appointed to the PMO after the 2011 election, only to be replaced earlier this year by a former Conservative staffer, Catherine Loubier.
“We’re obviously thrilled to have him,” said Mr. Baran, who has worked in a number of senior positions for the Conservative Party and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “This is somebody with experience from every level, it’s not just about his last job.”
Mr. Harper came to office in 2006 in large part on a corruption-busting agenda following the Liberal sponsorship scandal. He brought in the Accountability Act to clean up what the Conservatives called an ethical mess left by the previous government. In particular, the Conservatives were critical of the “revolving door” between the worlds of government and lobbying in the days of the Chrétien and Martin governments.
The Accountability Act prevented federal officials from lobbying the government for up to five years after their retirement, up from only one year under the Liberals.
The NDP said it will keep a “close eye” on the transition of members of Mr. Harper’s inner circle into the private sector.
“While [Mr. Bachand] cannot, under the law, act as a lobbyist for five years, it seems under this Conservative government there are more loopholes than there are rules,” NDP MP Charlie Angus said. “For the revolving door between lobbyist firms and the PMO, it seems it’s business as usual.”