A good part of my professional life is spent running a government-relations business. Yes, I am a registered lobbyist and not afraid to say it. I, like thousands of other people, engage in the legitimate practice of representing different interests and perspectives to Members of Parliament from all parties, government officials and bureaucrats among others. I don't need a shower at the end of each day because, like the overwhelming majority of my peers, I do my work adhering to all the guidelines and rules set out. My practice doesn't involve busty hookers and cocaine, however I am guilty of having the odd beer or glass of wine.
I like transparency and regulation. They afford what I do a form of public legitimacy. Contrary to what NDP MP Pat Martin says, my peers and I aren't rabid bats trapped in an attic. Rather the vermin among us are the ones who break the law and don't follow the rules. For them, no amount of legislation will prevent improper behavior. As a wise man once told me you can't legislate ethics. He was right.
So if we are going to engage in a new round of lobbying reform then let us also look at intensifying the punishments for those who break the rules or don't even bother to comply with them. Those punitive measures must also be applied and not simply exist as paper-based deterrents. Let Pat Martin throw as many books at them as he wants instead of rhetorical roundhouses.
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