Ontario’s Energy Minister was billed as the featured guest at a private fundraiser at the home of an executive who is part of an association that lobbies the provincial government on energy policy.
The event with Energy Minister Greg Rickford was scheduled for Thursday night at the Toronto home of Paul Grod, president and chief executive officer of Rodan Energy Solutions. The $300-a-person fundraiser was for Krystina Waler, a federal Conservative candidate in St. Catharines, Ont.
Rodan Energy is an energy management company whose clients include provincially owned Ontario Power Generation, as well as Bruce Power, a major electricity supplier.
Mr. Rickford’s spokeswoman, Erica Meekes, did not answer The Globe and Mail’s questions about a potential conflict of interest, saying: “The minister remains focused on our government’s priority of making sure the world knows Ontario is open for jobs and open for business.”
Mr. Grod is on the board of directors of the Ontario Energy Association, which represents utilities and other companies in the sector. The association has two in-house lobbyists who lobby government decision makers on a range of issues, including “policies directed at reforming the governance of the energy sector, optimizing the use of existing infrastructure, and leading regulatory evolution,” according to the province’s lobbyists registry. Mr. Grod noted that he and his company are not registered as lobbyists.
Ms. Waler referred a request for comment to Cory Hann, the Conservative Party of Canada’s director of communications.
“This event, like all of our party events and candidate events, follows all the fundraising rules that are in place,” he said.
Mr. Grod, who is also president of the Ukrainian World Congress, said he has been friends with Ms. Waler and her family for years and has volunteered with her on humanitarian projects relating to Ukraine.
The Globe obtained an e-mail invitation for the event sent on behalf of Mr. Grod by a Rodan Energy employee using a company e-mail account last month.
The fundraiser for Ms. Waler’s federal campaign comes on the heels of recent controversies over the provincial Progressive Conservatives’ fundraising practices, including enlisting registered lobbyists to help sell event tickets and raising money through Premier Doug Ford’s leadership bid, even though it was debt-free.
With a report from Greg McArthur