During CIBC talks, Prentice says he didn’t talk banking inside government

Sounds like a whirlwind courtship by the bank



An obvious question arises from Environment Minister Jim Prentice’s surprise announcement this afternoon that he’s leaving to join CIBC as vice-chairman: During the period when Prentice was in talks with bank about the job, did he recuse himself from federal cabinet talks on financial institutions issues?

I put the question to Prentice through a media spokesman, who provided this answer: “Jim Prentice has not participated in or had any discussions in cabinet or elsewhere in government pertaining to CIBC in particular or financial institutions in general since initially being contacted by the bank.”

Since Prentice was, up until this afternoon, chairing the cabinet’s powerful operations committee, where all sorts of government business has to be discussed, it seems surprising that absolutely nothing related to banking was on the agenda. I asked about that.

“It did not come up,” said Prentice’s spokesman. “We’re talking about a very short time period.”

Interesting. Sounds like a whirlwind courtship. I’ve asked how long ago CIBC approached Prentice, and will update this post if I hear back.


The same spokesman tells me Prentice was first approached by the CIBC about a month and a half ago. He talked to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Comissioner then for guidance on how to do his political job while negotiating with the bank.

On the point that absolutely nothing about financial institutions came up for cabinet consideration during those weeks, I note that Prentice was not on the Cabinet Committee on Economic Growth and Long-term Prosperity, so it’s possible something banking-related could have come up there and he just wasn’t in the room.

Filed under:

During CIBC talks, Prentice says he didn’t talk banking inside government

  1. When was he first approached/ did negotiations begin? Let's view his overall performance in that context. Banks have many interests outside of gov't .

  2. Yup…fast and easy. Let's have lunch.

    • Haha oh dear lord.

      You're the one who considered an epic 70 year record breaking smackdown given to the Democrats on tuesday just a run of a mill midterm in which they win some and they lose some.

      Emily everyone! EMILY!

      Cats away!

      • And the prize for most retarded post of the day goes to

        • You felt you earned it? I didn't think your posts were that bad.

      • Who's senate majority leader again?

        Oh … Your epic victory managed to lose to Harry Reid (LOL).

        Carry on then. Enjoy the G.O.P. civil war.

  3. ”Jim Prentice has not participated in or had any discussions in cabinet or elsewhere in government pertaining to CIBC in particular or financial institutions in general since initially being contacted by the bank.”

    Necessary but not sufficient.

    Banking touches every industry, government and not-for-profit in the nation. It is simply unethical to negotiate such a position while still in the federal cabinet. And, if there are no rules that prohibit such behaviour, there darn well should be.

    • Ba-loney.

      • Hey CATS… she's over here too! Recommending deli meats it appears.

        • You and Meow Mix make a good pair.

      • So, there SHOULDN'T be any rules about this sort of thing? Your first comment above made me think you thought this was bad. Now you've got me thinking that you think this is fine.

        Wait a sec, now I'm worrying about the fact that two of Emily's comments seem completely inconsistent with each other…

        Never mind. Please continue…

        • Nope, nothing inconsistent. Just kitty litter.

        • Sorry, double negatives and Emily combine to ruin my already obtuse writing style.

          Prentice + Cabinet + CIBC job = Wrong.

          • Nothing wrong with it….and don't blame me for your confusion, and apparent bitterness.

          • Wait did you just call someone bitter ?

            Irony cats.

          • Having never been bitter myself, it was obviously directed at someone else.

          • Weird i thought they called you bittermuch on these boards.

            Sure thing Cats.

  4. I consider it possible that nothing untoward occurred.

    I would like an impartial investigation into the matter to be assured.

  5. Give your heads a shake. They probably had lunch & talked about the job, then CIBC came back with an offer within 24 hours. How much gov't business re banking would have happened in that time?

    Not everything is a conspiracy or conflict of interest you know.

    • Yup, sounds like it. A week at most.

    • And how many government connections is Prentice going to be able to take advantage of, especially with speculation that he'll return for a run at the leadership when Harper goes? He should be made to sit on the sidelines for two years.

      • Not sure if you are aware, but there are laws against blocking ex-employees from earning a living. Which is pretty much what you are suggesting. How do you propose he "sit on the sidelines" for the next two years? Basketweaving, perhaps?

        • They call it a cooling off period, and it fairly standard practice.

  6. I don't imagine that there is anything untoward in leaving the federal government and going straight into the private sector, including as an executive at a major bank.

    I also imagine that the CIBC would not have offered him a job if they had had any dealings with him in government. The banks are so jittery over reputational risk these days and any dealings would eventually come out.

    I'm one of those rare birds who think we have too many barriers and restrictions on quality people moving back and forth between the private and public sectors.

    You end up with too many career politicians without enough real life experiences or contacts, too insulated from reality.

    • I completely agree, Ted.

      By the way, if you want a good laugh, check out the video of Nigel Wright's committee appearance on Tuesday. The quality gap is astonishing. An intelligent, hyper-talented private sector luminary being grilled by bumbling, not-terribly-bright career politicians.

  7. It seems likely he quit because the US elected more AGW deniosaurs, so the US will do nothing about climate change for a couple of years, and the Prentice/Harper line has always been waiting for the US to move..

    People who know him respect him, so maybe that's Harper's policy more than Prentice's policy, and the Environment Minister is not going to be able to do much until we get rid of Harper.

    • Yes, he was 'livid' about another duck mess, and there are calls to stop subsidizing oil and gas….and maybe he figured things would get better….but after the American vote, he'd had enough.

  8. There is an appropriate concern about the smell, here. Vice Chairman of one of the Big Five? If that sort of thing is a wham-bam-we're-done kind of process at the CIBC, depositors might want to make sure they stay under the CDIC limits.

    Which makes me think the negotiations rapid-fire informal chats would take a wee bit longer than a meet-n-greet at one of those hotels that charge by the hour.

    So I am a cabinet minister seriously contemplating a move to an executive position in the private sector. BAM! I instantly resign then and there, out of respect for my cabinet & caucus colleagues who will otherwise wear the nasty smell after I wander off. Then the negotiations can take place with clear air and, better, clear consciences.

    • LOL if CIBC can pick up that kind of talent, I'll be happy to open an account there. And if they can do it over dinner, even better.

    • And with a little more reflection on my part: I would be interested in knowing when Prentice approached the ethics commish, and what sort of advice / instructions he got from that encounter. That info may make some of the potential smell clear up very quickly.

      • I doubt he had time.

        • I realize you wouldn't have seen the update when you posted that, but just for context I thought it worth mentioning here that he had a month and a half.

  9. I think I saw a clip of Prentice claiming that he rec'd the offer last night, and contacted the Ethics Commissioner this morning – not sure whether this was before or after accepting.

    But, it makes you wonder why he would call a seemingly rushed scrum at 4:20 pm to announce his mining decision Nov 2nd as this pundit tweeted:

    Jim Prentice is scrumming at 4:20! Despite the timing there is probably no marijuana connection. Probably the event will be panda-based.
    Tue Nov 02 2010 16:10:09 (Eastern Daylight Time) via TweetDeck

    Why the haste?

    • Why hang around?

      • Why not leave the announcement for a reasonable time or for the interim Environment Minister? He seems to have had exceptional foresight.

        • He had a hot offer…like I say, why hang around?

          There is already an interim minister, and there is no 'reasonable' time.

          • Are you that thick? He does nothing on an Environmental file. Then, out of the blue, he announces a review of water quality of the Athabaska River third week in Sept – the expert panel expected to report to HIM in January, when HE supposedly will take action.

            Tues, he hastily calls a scrum for 4:20 pm to make another controversial announcement, the second of his career of two years as Enviro Min. Then, out of the blue he receives a job offer last night. Job surprsisingly starts Jan 1st.


          • So in the meantime he gave up on getting anything done, and left.

            HIs frustration has been telegraphed for some time now.

            Why is this such an issue for you? Are you thick or what?

          • "Nuts!"

          • Well I hadn't wanted to be the one to say so Dot, but……

          • It's a Battle of the Bulge reference. Google it.

          • I believe they said worse than that….like oh crikey or summat.

        • Because after accepting an offer from a Big 5 bank, it really would be ethically challenging to remain a cabinet minister. As we've seen, even considering an offer from a Big 5 bank arouses suspicion–completely untenable to be a government minister when the deal is done.

          • You don't get it Jenn. It's not what he does after accepting an offer. It's that he did diddly squat on some major files for two years, his latest flurry only occurring, it appears, after he entered discussions – according to John's update – 1 1/2 months ago.

          • Well, no, I do get that. But I also get that doing something on the environment file under this Prime Minister will quickly see you out of cabinet. And someone like Baird put in there in your place. Which isn't helping, either. I mean, it's one thing to fall on your sword for a just cause, but to do it knowing it makes absolutely no difference to the just cause and in fact might make it worse, would be a silly personal decision to throw away money for nothing. He did do something on his way out the door. Hopefully, it will be something the government finds difficult to undo. With the reality Prentice had to deal with (Harper says nothing gets done on the environment file) what would you have done differently?

          • But I also get that doing something on the environment file under this Prime Minister will quickly see you out of cabinet.

            Oh yeah? Who?

  10. Can't find a link right now but I read somewhere that ScotiaBank has Michael Kirby,
    TD has Frankie McKenna, RBC has Fortier, CIBC now has Prentice.
    Does BMO know something the rest of them don't … or they just haven't put a bid
    in yet ?

  11. Trying to find all those conbots that are hating on Prentice…

    Oops… emily's just crazy! Surprise!

    • Yeah, pay no attention to posters on two threads, or all the other things said about Cons who left over the years, just attack me for disagreeing with you.

      Rattled your cage did I? LOL

      • Yup not paying attention…
        LaxAtlDfwYow – he's not a conbot. He was denouncing the Conservative's way of dealing with the BHP bid just a day ago, and in doing so was called a "partisan hack"
        madeyoulook – I happen to find that he's one of the least partisan, right leaning commentators on here.
        Dot – I wish I had access to some of his old posts, but from I recall, he's also quite level-headed

        Emily, it's like you're seeing lots of chet, cats, jarrid and dennis_f's around. But they haven't said a thing on Prentice… yet.

        • not to mention hollinm.

          • You can delete this stuff too.

            Maybe a return to the actual topic?

          • You've made it obvious how much you enjoy staying on topic. I find branching off rather amusing, especially when it's to prove emily's exaggerations for what they are.

            I only deleted the other comment because it wasn't in direct reply to your previous comment. But don't worry it was copy pasted, with that last sentence added at the bottom for extra flavour!

            But I'm sorry, I'm on Bordeaux time, so I'll let you uselessly slam the conservative non-trolls while I sleep.

          • I think it just shows that the leftwing is as crazy as the rightwing.

            I also think you're drinking Bordeaux….and probably need the sleep.

  12. So….given the update, everything is fine and all our armchair morality squad members can chill. LOL

    • I thought everything was fine because it all happened so fast that there wasn't possibly enough time for any conflict of interest to come up. Now we should all chill, because we know there was only a month and a half for a potential conflict of interest to come up?

      This could turn out to be entirely above board of course, but you can't claim that everything's fine, because this whole process probably happened over a lunch, or would have taken a week, tops, and then later say "See, everything's fine, the whole process took just a month and a half… only five or six times as long as I suggested earlier!".

  13. Wow…are YOU confused! LOL

  14. I may have lost the fox here, but let me try to recap based on all the above:

    Mid-Sept: Prentice headhunted for CIBC Vice-Chairman role
    Nov-03: Prentice receives and accepts (?) offer from CIBC
    Nov-04 AM: contact Ethics Commissioner
    Nov-04 PM: Announces resignation as Minister

    The second and third are based on DOT's posting but I can't say I've seen or heard confirmation. With that caveat, a few comments:

    1. Operating as a Minister of the Crown while negotiating employment with one of the country's major banks is at the very least ethically perilous.

    2. Offers for such senior positions do not just arrive in the mail out of the blue. Indeed, it would be stunning if Prentice had not discussed every detail and was well aware of the offer to be proffered prior to it ever being formally presented. One does not lob such offers in cold. They are always discussed and agreed upon in advance and may well go thru multiple iterations It is probable that legal counsel was involved on both sides.
    3. Thus, suggesting (if Prentice in fact did) that he "received the offer yesterday" is likely a typical politician trick: being strictly true but misleading.

    4. Failing to contact the Ethics Comish for 45 days while you discuss and then negotiate the offer and your acceptance of the position is grossly ethically deficient.

    5. I suspect if the process proceeded as suggested, then the likely response of the Ethics Comish this AM was something along the lines of "resign from Cabinet immediately or else".

    All that said, I hope the time line is wrong. Prentice seems like a quality guy and I'd be disappointed if a federal CabMin had such a lapse of judgment.

    • From the update posted: "The same spokesman tells me Prentice was first approached by the CIBC about a month and a half ago. He talked to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Comissioner then for guidance on how to do his political job while negotiating with the bank."

      You may want to have your reading comprehension tested.

      • 1.There is no time context to the second sentence of the quote. Thus, what John wrote is not inconsistent with Dot's report. The device of making two sequential statements, the first with a specific time reference and the second without is often used to lead one to conclude that the two occurred simultaneously. It's a matter of reading comprehension, really.

        2. Moreover, the Globe this morning (Nov-05) reports that he first met the Comish on Nov-04 AM – confirming Dot's report..

        Rather than attacking the person, you may wish to attempt to take issue with the arguments.

        • …two sequential statements, the first with a specific time reference and the second without

          Isn't the word "then" in the second sentence a specific time reference? He was first approached about a month and a half ago, and he approached the Ethics Commissioner then for guidance on how to do his political job while negotiating with the bank.

          Now, that quote might not be accurate, but it is saying that he approached the Commissioner about a month and a half ago.

          • Even if the quote is accurate, it assumes that the spokesman is telling the truth. If we consider that the truth is somewhat closer to to LaxAtlDfwYow's version, admitting such would be highly self-incriminating. Given the CPC's previous performance when it comes to dealing with such things, any such assumption is highly charitable.

          • Too true. My only point was that if the quote is what the spokesperson said, then the spokesperson said that Prentice contacted the Ethics Commissioner about a month and a half ago.

            Whether or not that's TRUE is another question entirely.

  15. Good catch Hamlet!
    Harper seems to have a "bunker-like" mentality or the more positive version: lives in a bubble. His regimes' bizarre controlling behavior increasingly resembles North Korea while dear-leader himself caricatures the father-son wackos from Pyongyang.

    A reasonable fellow like Prentice would never have been a true bunker-mate, his departure from gov't signals a likely drift into the further reaches of political paranoia for this regime. Oh, and adding Environment back into Bairds' one-man-propaganda-circus means a further drop in job-satisfaction for the scientists (are there any credible ones left?) in this ministry and sets Canada way outside any potentially effective global movement to preserve a livable planet.

  16. Prentice was my pick to be the next CPC leader.

    Sad day for me.

    • Sad day for the CPC.

      Who's the front-runner now?

      • Kenney, some people are talking Bernier but I think Kenney will be the choice!

        • LOL! i hope u r right!

      • I don't think Prentice was the front-runner. He just would've been my choice.

        I think the current favourite has to be Peter MacKay. There is always chatter about Bernard Lord come leadership time, but I don't think that will materialize.

        Bernier and Kenney could both be dark horses, but if they both run they will end up clipping each others grass out West. I don't really see either of them winning, due to them not being electable in a general election. Max has baggage, and libertarian views are not mainstream in Canada. Kenney is a liar, and been caught in some bad ones. If he wins, I may have to rethink my sweater colour.

  17. Maxime Bernier?