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Loopholes allow politicians to lobby the day after they leve office

Letter to the Editor by Democracy Watch Board Member Duff Conacher published in the Globe and Mail

Dear Editor,

Your article makes the inaccurate claim that the federal Conservatives’ 2006 Accountability Act prevents “federal officials from lobbying the government for up to five years after their retirement . . .” (PM’s former Quebec adviser hired by lobbying firm – Sept. 4).

In fact, because of huge loopholes in the federal Lobbying Act and Conflict of Interest Act and codes, Cabinet ministers, their staff, Cabinet appointees, MPs and senators and their staff are all allowed to lobby the government the same day they retire or resign.

Under rules that have existed since 1986, Cabinet ministers for two years, and senior government officials for one year, have be careful whom they lobby for, and whom they lobby — but they are allowed to start lobbying the day they leave government.

The Accountability Act did nothing to close the loopholes, and Treasury Board minister Tony Clement has failed to take any steps to implement the proposals made in a May 2012 House of Commons Ethics Committee report to close some (but unfortunately not all) of the loopholes.

Until these loopholes are closed, everyone involved in federal politics will continue to be free to cash in and sell their inside information and connections to the highest bidder as soon as they finish their so-called public service.


Duff Conacher
Board Member of Democracy Watch
Director of Consulting

Twitter: @DuffConacher

Democracy Watch’s Government Ethics Campaign