DEMOCRACY WATCH CALLS FOR CHANGES TO POLITICAL FINANCE LAW AND INVESTIGATION TO ADDRESS CONDUCT BY MEMBER OF CABINET AND LOBBYIST
Thursday, April 13, 2000
OTTAWA - At a news conference today, Democracy Watch revealed that lobbyist and former Liberal MP Barry Campbell organized a fundraising event last fall for The Hon. Jim Peterson, Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions), Department of Finance. The situation highlights the need to amend Bill C-2 before it is passed into law to close loopholes in the political finance system (Bill C-2 amends the Canada Elections Act, including political finance rules). The situation also raises serious questions about whether federal ethics rules have been violated.
Barry Campbell is the former Liberal MP for the St. Paul's riding in Toronto, and since mid-1998 a federally registered lobbyist as Chairman of the company APCO Canada. The invitation to the September 27, 1999 fundraising event was sent out on letterhead, in an envelope and with a return envelope all identifying APCO Canada as the main organizer of the event on behalf of Peterson and his riding association. (For copies of the letter, envelopes and donation card contact Democracy Watch)
According to the federal Lobbyists Registry website, Barry Campbell currently represents the following clients lobbying the Department of Finance: CCL Industries Inc., Celestica Inc., George Weston Ltd., Morgan Stanley Canada Ltd., Moore Corporation Ltd., Royal Bank Of Canada, State Street Trust Company Canada, The Thomson Corporation, and Torys. In the past, Campbell has also lobbied the Finance Department on behalf of the Bank Of Nova Scotia and J.P. Morgan & Co. Inc. (For a copy of the list from the Registry website contact Democracy Watch)
"Under Bill C-2, donations to riding associations, or to MPs between elections, can still remain secret. With these and other gaps in the law, Canada's political finance system is more loophole than law," said Aaron Freeman, a Board member of Democracy Watch and author of Cashing In: Money and Influence in Canadian Politics, which will be released at the end of April.
Freeman also issued a challenge to the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (which is currently reviewing Bill C-2) and the entire Senate. He asked the Senators to amend Bill C-2 to close fundraising loopholes if he could provide them with irrefutable proof that these loopholes were being used to hide donations. Freeman appeared before the Committee at 10:45 am today, the last witness before Bill C-2 will be sent back to the Senate for final vote. The final Senate vote on Bill C-2 is expected anytime in the next few weeks, depending on the length of the Senate's spring break.
Democracy Watch also sent letters to Jim Peterson and Finance Minister Paul Martin requesting immediate and full disclosure of whether any other lobbyists have been or are in any way involved in fundraising activities for them. Democracy Watch also requested disclosure of all donations to them, their riding associations, any related trust fund or leadership campaign fund from any person or organization involved in lobbying the Department of Finance since the 1997 federal election. Democracy Watch also sent a letter to the Liberal Party of Canada requesting disclosure of all similar donations in 1999 and 2000. (For a copy of the letters contact Democracy Watch)
Given the recent approval of the takeover of Canada Trust by Toronto-Dominion Bank, and the upcoming introduction in Parliament of amendments to federal financial institution laws, Democracy Watch is requesting this disclosure so that the Canadian public will be able to determine whether decisions have been made, and laws drafted, in the public interest or under the undue influence of wealthy special interests.
"Sunshine is a good disinfectant against undue influence over the government," said Aaron Freeman, "When major policy decisions are being made, Canadians have a right to know who is helping bankroll Ministers and the governing party. After all, he who pays the piper calls the tune."
In addition, Democracy Watch has sent a letter to federal Ethics Counsellor Howard Wilson requesting that he investigate whether Campbell has violated the federal Lobbyists' Code of Conduct, and whether Peterson has violated the federal Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders by participating in the fundraising event. Democracy Watch has also requested that Wilson investigate whether other similar events have occurred on behalf of Jim Peterson or any other public office holder covered by the Code. (For a copy of the letter to Howard Wilson contact Democracy Watch)
Rule 8 of the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct states that: "Lobbyists shall not place public office holders in a conflict of interest by proposing or undertaking any action that would constitute an improper influence on a public office holder." Part II, sub-section 23(1) of the Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders states that "A public officer holder shall take care to avoid being placed or the appearance of being placed under an obligation to any person or organization, or the representative of a person or organization, that might profit from special consideration on the part of the office holder."
"The federal ethics rules require both lobbyists and ministers to conduct themselves with complete integrity, and this situation raises serious questions about whether these rules have been broken," said Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO OBTAIN COPIES OF THE LETTERS,
Aaron Freeman, Board member or
Duff Conacher, Coordinator
Tel: (613) 241-5179