CETA: Matthew Kronby, ex-negotiator (UPDATED)

[UPDATED with comment from Ed Fast's office, below - pw]

We’re all chuffed at news that Matthew Kronby has found new work at Bennett Jones. It’s a great law firm, and we’re sure Bennett Jones is right when they say his appointment “solidifies” its “position as a leader” in trade law. After all, Matthew Kronby was the government of Canada’s lead lawyer on the CETA trade deal with Europe and —

— Wait. What?

Indeed it is so. From the Bennett Jones release:

Matthew was the Government of Canada’s lead lawyer in the negotiation of trade and investment agreements with Singapore, Colombia, Peru and most recently, the trade agreement with the EU. He was Canadas negotiator on improvements to the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Understanding. He has advised ministers, policy officials and regulators in many federal departments and agencies on trade compliance issues ranging from climate change to import controls to product regulation and covering sectors from financial services to energy, agriculture [ed. note: they said agriculture — pw] and aviation.

Job offers sometimes come at awkward times, but it’s kind of super-awkward to be walking away from the federal government’s most important trade initiative when you’re the lead lawyer on the file. And negotiations are almost two years past the original deadline. And every week more cities pass municipal resolutions asking to be exempted from the trade deal’s provisions. And coverage of leaked intellectual-property language from the negotiating sessions is making headlines across Europe. (Hat tip to Michael Geist for that last.) And the patent-drug lobby is hosting swishy Ottawa dinners with Brian Mulroney to vaunt the merits of a deal with Europe (because our drug patent protection would harmonize with theirs and pharma research would, presumably, increase as a result).

And the question nobody can answer for me is: How is it that a now-majority government that has been working on this file for five years with the unanimous consent and active cooperation of the provinces hasn’t closed the deal yet? I remember sitting in the Polish ambassador’s residence in early 2011 as they speculated on the possibility of signing a deal while Poland had the rotating EU presidency, which would have been between July and December of 2011. No dice. Denmark’s turn just expired. Still no deal. To Cyprus, then, before the end of 2012? Ireland or Lithuania next year? Could a deal collapse?

Don’t ask Matthew Kronby. He’s left the building.

UPDATE, 5:31 p.m.: But Rudy Hrusny, spokesman for Trade Minister Ed Fast, is on the job. He sent along the following comment:

“Our government is committed to the highest standards of government ethics, transparency and accountability.

“Post-Employment measures are in place to ensure that public servants minimize the possibility of real, apparent or potential conflict of interest between their most recent responsibilities within the federal government and subsequent employment outside the federal government.

“This includes a strong commitment to keeping government information confidential.

“Both Canada and the EU are committed to a comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement – an agreement that will bring tremendous benefits to workers and families in every region of Canada.”

This is mostly in response, not to my questions about timing and the likelihood of a trade deal, but to the Council of Canadians, which was complaining about the “revolving door” between government and the big trade-law firms. As for the man in question, iPolitics contacted Kronby and he says he left because he didn’t like the commute. Such issues are real enough; indeed that’s basically what this month’s Atlantic Monthly cover story is about.

As for a trade deal, it’s imminent, we’re told, as we’ve been told for the past two years.

 




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CETA: Matthew Kronby, ex-negotiator (UPDATED)

  1. On the other hand, perhaps this departure means the work has been done?

    • …or the deal is dead.

      • It’s fair to say it’s a Schrodinger box for now. But the delay is real…

        • Fair enough.

  2. Well denouncing, lecturing and insisting the other side needs to upgrade and become just like you….doesn’t win you any friends during negotiations. Parochial poop for the home crowd is recognized as such….but good will is still a part of any successful talks. A young country like us preaching to Europe and…earlier… China, is absurd….and since we need them more than they need us….they aren’t likely to have much patience. You also have to give as well as get, and I can’t see Harp doing that.

  3. Is he allowed to waltz into a new job with a law firm and work on those very same files from day one?

  4. Harper admin has been anti-trade since taking power six years ago, it is astonishing how little Cons have done to make trade easier. I don’t have impression Harper is serious about getting any trade deals signed. Harper happy to appear to be doing something but there is no urgency to improve trade within/without Canada.

    Trade creates wealth, which Cons have done nothing to bolster, but Harper and his minions have been busy spending $$$ on frivolities and leaving massive debts for generations of Canadians yet to arrive. Europe is a dead continent – except for Germany and a few other northern european economies – so I am not really bothered what happens to trade deal with Europe but Harper should be doing much more to get deals signed in various regions of Asia.

    It is scandalous how little Cons have done to create wealth – Harper is paper tiger conservative who’s happy to spend his time as PM doing little as possible and have no legacy.

  5. Says Mr. Hrusny:

    “Our government is committed to the highest standards of government ethics, transparency and accountability.”

    …which would have caused a spit-take on my part if I hadn’t heard this blather from countless Conservative government mouthpieces in recent years.

    “Post-Employment measures are in place to ensure that public servants
    minimize the possibility of real, apparent or potential conflict of
    interest between their most recent responsibilities within the federal
    government and subsequent employment outside the federal government.”

    Yup. Ahem:

    http://dwmw.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/crony-capitalism-revolving-door-between-telecom-media-internet-industries-in-canada-and-ex-politicos/

    http://dwatch.ca/camp/RelsDec1211.html

    http://dwatch.ca/camp/RelsMay3110.html

    And so on, and so on. Search Google for “conservative revolving door lobbyist canada”

    “This includes a strong commitment to keeping government information confidential.”

    No kidding. Look at the mockery the Conservatives have made of already weak ATI responsibilities. Heck, even supposedly arms-length agencies have learned the game: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/carleton-u-concedes-problems-with-15m-donor-deal-for-politics-school-162262105.html

    “Carleton University says a $15-million donor agreement for its showcase
    school of political management, fronted by Preston Manning, does not
    reflect the university’s academic policies and will be renegotiated.
    Carleton quietly released the donor agreement on the Friday afternoon
    before Canada Day after stonewalling The Canadian Press for almost a
    year to keep it under wraps…

    …A heavily redacted version was eventually released following mediation;
    the case was going to arbitration when the university released the full
    document on the eve of a summer holiday weekend.”

    I’m sure Rudy Hrusny, spokesman for Trade Minister Ed Fast, has a sweet lobbying job lined up. He just has to polish a few more turds and he’ll be into Jaguars and three-martini lunches.

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