Liberals knew about TransCanada work, says Gagnier

The Energy East work that forced Justin Trudeau’s campaign co-chair to resign isn’t new

Dan Ganier (Liberal Party)

Dan Gagnier (Liberal Party)

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s now-former campaign co-chair has been advising TransCanada since last spring, a company spokesman has confirmed.

What’s more, Dan Gagnier, who stepped down from the Liberal campaign on Wednesday, says the party knew about the work.

The Canadian Press reported that Gagnier sent a detailed memo to energy company TransCanada earlier this week, advising officials there how to deal with a new government following Monday’s election. Trudeau told reporters on Thursday that that was inappropriate.

Gagnier worked as a contractor and primarily offered communications advice regarding the Energy East pipeline, TransCanada spokesman James Millar wrote in an email to Maclean’s. The pipeline proposal is controversial in Quebec, the province in which Gagnier once worked as an adviser to former premier Jean Charest. If built, the 4,600-km pipeline would send about 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries and port terminals in eastern Canada, TransCanada says on its website.

“[Gagnier’s] counsel has been helpful in guiding us on how best to communicate the benefits of the project to Canadians,” Millar said.

He wouldn’t say who received Gagnier’s email—the recipients’ names are blanked out of the nearly three-page memo—but they all had TransCanada email addresses. Millar said he doesn’t know who leaked the email, but confirmed the company is investigating, since an internal email was distributed outside the company.

The memo from Gagnier to TransCanada detailed what a new government would have to take care of in its first days in office, including senior appointments to the Prime Minister’s Office and who would be in cabinet. It also listed possible implications for TransCanada and Energy East.

In a brief email to Maclean’s, Gagnier said he told the Liberals about his work for TransCanada and that there was an understanding he wouldn’t contribute to discussions on energy policy.

A spokeswoman for the party said it’s public knowledge that Gagnier was advising TransCanada, pointing to an article by La Presse last February that noted he was in talks with the company.

“[Gangier] informed the Liberal campaign that he was advising his client, TransCanada, on issues related to the provincial Quebec government. When it became clear that he was advising his client on federal transition issues, we took the steps that we did,” Kate Purchase wrote in an email.

The party also referred Maclean’s to Trudeau’s comments from Thursday morning.

“We demonstrated, within 24 hours of finding out about this letter, the level of high standards of ethics and accountability that I have always expected of everyone around me,” Trudeau said.

Gagnier has always acted in a responsible way over his long career working in various governments, Trudeau added, but “acted in an inappropriate way a few days ago and, when we found out about it, we sat down with him and he chose to do the responsible thing and step down from our campaign.”

The spokesman did not respond when asked what changed Trudeau’s mind about the work Gagnier was doing.

As campaign co-chair, Gagnier was in the war room periodically and was a go-to voice on Quebec strategy for Trudeau and his team.

This isn’t the first time Gagnier’s name has come up in connection to allegedly inappropriate lobbying.

In 2013, the RCMP filed court documents seeking the bank records of Bruce Carson, a former adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. According to the RCMP, Carson was lobbying illegally for the Energy Policy Institute of Canada (EPIC), an organization he helped to create and worked with from 2009 to 2011. Gagnier was vice-chair of EPIC at the time Carson was working with the organization. He’s also one of the people the RCMP says knew that Carson may have been lobbying while prohibited from doing so.

In the documents, known as an ITO, or information to obtain a production order, the RCMP says members of EPIC’s executive committee, which included Gagnier, “were aware of Mr. Carson’s communication with [holders of public office] in order to promote EPIC,” contrary to the Lobbying Act. The work included setting up meetings and briefings with government officials, including Harper’s then-chief of staff Nigel Wright.

As a former PMO staffer, Carson fell under rules brought in by the Conservatives that banned public office holders from lobbying for five years after leaving government. That blocked Carson from lobbying until February 2014. EPIC was started by the energy industry as a non-partisan policy advocacy organization, with Carson beginning his work there in August 2009.

Gagnier and Carson weren’t the only two active with EPIC to have political ties: Former trade minister David Emerson, who sat as both a Liberal and a Conservative MP, took over as chair of EPIC late in 2009; Doug Black, a Conservative-appointed senator who sat on the upper chamber’s energy and environment committee, served as EPIC’s president; and Frank McKenna, the deputy chair of TD Bank and a former Liberal premier, was one of EPIC’s vice-chairs. McKenna is also on Trudeau’s economic council of advisers. Gagnier is listed as EPIC’s president in a year-old news release on its website (the most recent news release posted; there is no staff directory or board of directors listed).

Gagnier has been active in the energy and sustainable development industries. He’s also a past chair of the International Institute on Sustainable Development, a registered charity in Canada whose president is former Canadian environment commissioner Scott Vaughan.


    Liberals knew about TransCanada work, says Gagnier

    1. Unethical Liberal slime.

      And Turdeau’s bad acting is not fooling anyone, Justin the drama queen, he’s another unethical slime who took money from charities to hear him blather while he was supposed to be in the House of Commons doing his work as an MP!

      • Yah, nearly as slimy as that Bruce Carson. You know, Harper’s former Advisor.

        • Harper’s office called the RCMP on Bruce Carson, and it was a new law introduced by the Conservative government that he has been charged under.

          Harper was dead-set against this kind of behavior, helped create the law to put an end to it, and had his own office call the police on one of his own advisors. In other words, he doesn’t put up with this kind of crap.

          The Liberals apparently knew about Gangier for some time. Did they do anything to stop him? Nope, kept it all hushed up until someone from the Pipeline company leaked an email.

          What makes this worse is that the Liberals have been portraying themselves as saviors of the environment. All the while they are making deals with the company planning to connect a huge pipeline to the oil sands.

          • Harper’s office reported his lobbying activity to the RCMP after the story broke in the media.
            Nice try, though.

            • Still doesn’t negate that they reported it to the cops as opposed to sweeping it under the rug or trying to minimize it.

            • Pretty sure you can’t sweep it under the rug once its part of the public record.

              “…or trying to minimize it.”

    2. One comment and 40 views, that’s what I call an all out scandal, NEXT!

      • Don’t know the difference between shares and views?

        Typical Leftwingnut low information Trudope Smoker.

        • I don’t know what’s funnier – that Carpet Bomber uses page views to evaluate ethics, or Billy “biggest majority in Canadian history” Bob calling someone else “low information”.

    3. Gerald Butts…was around for the birth of the billion dollar e-Health scandal, the billion dollar ORNGE scandal, the sellout of Ontario consumers to Bay Street financiers with the alternative energy crony capitalism.

      Moving on from looting Ontario to looting Ottawa.

    4. Polls are really closer than some people think. Since our system is based on number of seats rather than popular vote, and the fact that Harper’s riding are very well distributed, the only thing we know is that the election is statistically VERY close. To replace Harper, we have to vote in a smart manner. Here are the updated data on swing ridings that are updated today based on ensemble of the data, to increase chances of winning ridings for NDP and LIB parties ( The data will be updated every day until the election :).

      • I voted Conservative because of their stand on community safety. Specifically, they favour incarceration and treatment for high risk sex offenders against children. The Liberals AND NDP both favour a return to more conditional sentencing–unsupervised house arrest. Under the previous Liberal government, repeat offenders routinely got house arrest; many re-offended. To me that’s completely unacceptable.

        At the same time, I am concerned for the environment. I looked at the Liberals, NDP and Green Parties regarding their environmental platforms. Unfortunately, ALL of these Parties see Conservative justice reforms as “too costly” and “unnecessary.” Well, I worked with victims of childhood sexual abuse for more than 20 years, and I can tell you that they are neither.

        Still, I’m worried about climate change, and was looking at Parties that might take real action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I’m very, very glad I wasn’t taken in by Liberal claims. If I had chosen to vote Liberal out of concern for our dependence on fossil fuels, I would be very angry right now.

    5. We can thank our lucky stars that this came out before the election! Imagine all the people that would have buyer’s remorse if this hadnt have come out in time. It’s a bit sad for the advance poll voters though. There are quite a few more questions that needs to answer about this whole mess. Now I’m wondering how much we can trust the rest of Trudeau’s inner circle.

    6. At the very extreme least, Justin Trudeau is a hypocrite. In reality, it is breath-taking how easily positions of influence can justify personal gain.

    7. And the wheels fall of the bus…

    8. In the Friday edition of my daily Metro News there were no less than three gushing stories with Justin’s picture, extolling the virtues of voting Lib. Thank you Macleans for showing journalistic balance and integrity.

    9. Same old Liberal tactics. Why do Canadians not see this Party for what it really is. They are a bunch of elitists with only one agenda, to get and keep power at all costs, Canada be damed. Trudeau is a mental light weight and only speaks when told to and only told what to say (by Butts). They are a morally bankrupt gang of leftwing, socialist thugs. The Liberals have known about this scandal for more than a year. Trudeau said that nothing was done wrong, but quickly flip flops (he does that alot) when they got caught with his pants down. As usual he convieniently through Gaigner under the Liberal bus, and figures that that will fix it. Polls have already shown the liberals taking a hit and continuing to slid. We’ll see on Monday if Canadian are as politically and morallly smart as they claim to be. Trudeau needs to go back where he belongs, drama school.

    10. Trudeau inherited a decrepit old clunker of a party, still reeking with the stench of Adscam, the HRDC scandal, the long gun registry billion dollar boondoggle, Shawinigate, the Mahar Arar affair, the “entitled to my entitlements” mentality and corruption. They needed to tow the clunker back to the factory to have all the rusty old nuts and bolts replaced, a dynamic new engine installed, the interior completely sanitized, and a shiny new paint job applied. They opted instead to just hire a handsome new driver, buff up the rust marks and hope nobody would notice that nothing else had been changed. Jean Chretien’s response to the scandal simply confirmed that absolutely nothing had changed in the Liberal tent. Yep, we got caught, “he resigned, next”. It’s all over, on to the next scandal, nothing to see here. What has changed in the Liberal party? Absolutely nothing it seems. Sad, because I was really, really hoping for a viable alternative to Harper. See

    11. Why isn’t this considered an illegal corporate contribution to Justin Trudeau’s campaign?

    12. What I find endlessly fascinating about this is how not one person can explain what Gagnier did wrong.

      If there is something wrong with providing advice to stakeholders on how to approach either an NDP or Liberal government on issues related to oil and gas, no one here or anywhere else seems able to explain why.

      In fact, such advice is so commonplace that despite knowing about this for weeks, the no one in the media even thought it worth bringing up.

      No indeed, this seems like every other partisan tactic that’s come along: a mere spin on an issue that would be best discussed rationally.

      But by all means folks, explain what the actual issue is here.

      • Of course he didn’t do anything wrong.
        The Liberals and Conservatives have always been full of people that move seamlessly between their parties and their corporations. Sometimes providing privileged access, other times enjoying it.
        Obviously the citizens who elect those parties can’t afford to have it’s principals on retainer.
        Nothing new here.

      • “What I find endlessly fascinating about this is how not one person can explain what Gagnier did wrong.

        If there is something wrong with providing advice to stakeholders on how to approach either an NDP or Liberal government on issues related to oil and gas, no one here or anywhere else seems able to explain why.

        In fact, such advice is so commonplace that despite knowing about this for weeks, the no one in the media even thought it worth bringing up.

        Are you really that obtuse? The guy is advising a company on how to lobby a POLITICAL PARTY WHICH HE WORKS FOR. That’s crooked and un-ethical.

        • It’s SOP in Canadian politics.

    13. Of course Justin knew.
      It helps explain why Justin refused to set greenhouse gas emission targets!
      This expose brings back all the memories of federal Liberal corruption – arrogance and sense of entitlement!
      But a challenging question arises – which party – Liberal or Conservative – is more corrupt?
      Tough call.
      As a BCer, with 15 years of living through BC Liberal corruption, I’d say Liberal.

    14. Justin is full of mascaraed behavior, ballyhoo. Liberal party is full of bull. They are showing it in whatever they do. Imagine the consequences. They cannot be trusted. No votes for them. Harper is good. This government is good.

    15. Wind energy is not reducing C02 in Ontario. Our own Engineers are reporting this. See the report, “Ontario’s Electricity Dilemma – Achieving Low Emissions at Reasonable Electricity Rates.”
      Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE), April 30 2015.
      www DOT ospe DOT on DOT ca/resource/resmgr/DOC_advocacy/2015_Presentation_Elec_Dilem.pdf

      Page 15 of 23.

      “Why Will Emissions Double as We Add Wind and Solar Plants ?”

      – Wind and Solar require flexible backup generation.

      – Nuclear is too inflexible to backup renewables without expensive engineering changes to the reactors.

      – Flexible electric storage is too expensive at the moment.

      – Consequently natural gas provides the backup for wind and solar in North America.

      – When you add wind and solar you are actually forced to reduce nuclear genera,on to make room for more natural gas generation to provide flexible backup.

      – Ontario currently produces electricity at less than 40 grams of CO2 emissions/kWh.

      – Wind and solar with natural gas backup produces electricity at about 200 grams of CO 2 emissions/kWh. Therefore adding wind and solar to Ontario’s grid drives CO2 emissions higher. From 2016 to 2032 as Ontario phases out nuclear capacity to make room for wind and solar, CO2 emissions will double (2013 LTEP data).

      – In Ontario, with limited economic hydro and expensive storage, it is mathematically impossible to achieve low CO2 emissions at reasonable electricity prices without nuclear generation.

    16. What made me laugh is that this guy didn’t even wait until after the Liberals were in power to start soliciting bids. Cocky much?