0

Just don’t ask him for advice on lobbying PMO …


 

So, if Guy Giorno really is off to Langevin to become the New Ian Brodie later this summer, should he still take part in this “exclusive” seminar, hosted by his current law firm, billed as an “in-depth examination of business rights and responsibilities” under the Federal Accountability Act?


Giorno isn’t yet a public office holder – emphasis on the ‘yet’ – but you’ve got to think that most, if not all of the lobbyists, lawyers and public affairs consultants willing to drop $350 on a half-day event will be all too cognizant of the fact that, within weeks, he may very well have become the Prime Minister’s most senior adviser. As such, his ideas on, say, “what every business, lobbyist or non-profit association should know when communicating with the federal government” would take on far more significance for anyone planning to lobby PMO in future. (That is, if the Globe and Mail has it right, of course.)

On the plus side, at least Giorno will be able to give his predecessor some tips on finding new work while staying on the right side of the law, which imposes a five year ban on lobbying by former senior staffers. In fact, when he appeared before the Senate committee studying the Accountability Act in 2006, Giorno recommended that the ban be extended to make all post-employment lobbying temporarily verboten by amending a loophole that, he claimed, favoured in-house and corporate gigs over non-profits:

Mr. Giorno: […] I believe the five-
year cooling off period is vital, necessary, it meets the expectations of Canadians, but there is an inconsistency between
the way the five-year cooling off period has been drafted in Bill C-2, and the way it exists in section 29 of the post-
employment code. Second, distinctions are drawn among different types of in-house lobbyists and those distinctions
are different from the way in-house lobbyists are treated in other sections of the same act; the Lobbyists Registration
Act.

I can speak to that in somewhat more detail but just to highlight two examples: Under Bill C-2, in-house lobbyists
for organizations are treated much more severely than in-house lobbyists for corporations, and I am not sure that was
the intent for differential treatment when it comes to the five-year ban. To say that again a bit differently, a senior
public office-holder who leaves that office and goes to work as an in-house lobbyist for an organization would be
treated more severely than a senior public office-holder who leaves that office to work as an in-house lobbyist for a
corporation.

[…]

Anyone who goes to one of those organizations and does any of the activities, that is any of the registerable activities
in section 7, is subject to a five-year ban. If he or she leaves public office and goes to work for a corporation there is
some additional language, and that is that he or she carries on those activities that can be registered and they constitute
a significant part of the individual’s work. I am sure honourable senators have heard that that is 20 per cent.

The Chairman: One day a week.

Mr. Giorno: Or one day a week. The way this works, a senior public office-holder who goes to a not-for-profit or a
partnership and spends 1 per cent of his time lobbying would be covered, whereas one who goes to work for a
corporation and spends 19.999 per cent of his time lobbying would not be covered. I do not think that is what was
intended. I think that is an oversight. I think that is something that could easily be corrected.

There is also a bit of a difference in the way senior officers of corporations are treated. Again, under the existing act
and under section 29 of the code, if you are a senior officer of a corporation and you spend one second lobbying, .0001
per cent of your time, you are subject to the ban. For some reason, the way this section is drafted, as a senior office-
holder of a corporation, you are now subject to the 20 per cent rule. Again, I do not believe that is intentional; I think
that is an oversight.


 

Sign in to comment.