[Democracy Watch Logo]

Media Release


Tuesday, January 22, 2002

OTTAWA - Today, Democracy Watch raised questions about the presentation federal Ethics Counsellor Howard Wilson is giving tomorrow at the high-priced Access Government 2002 conference in Toronto. According to the conference brochure, lobbyists who can afford the $1,813.65 conference fee will receive advice from Wilson on such topics as:

In the several years the Ethics Counsellor has held his two positions as administrator of the ethics code for public officials and enforcer of the Lobbyists Code of Conduct, he has not released interpretations of the laws and codes that govern these areas to the public, let alone to all registered lobbyists.

In fact, the Ethics Counsellor has shown reluctance to clarify what many rules in the codes mean. He has one complaint about an alleged violation of the Lobbyists Code outstanding from the 1999-2000 fiscal year, and Democracy Watch is still waiting for rulings from the Ethics Counsellor on six of the 11 complaints it has filed about potential violations of the codes. Four of Democracy Watch's complaints were filed over one year ago, one of which dates back to April 2000 and involves political donations.

"When the Ethics Counsellor is giving advice to a conference of wealthy lobbyists about how not to get caught violating ethics rules while he continues to refuse to rule on several long-standing complaints about alleged violations of those rules, serious questions arise about what role the Ethics Counsellor is playing" said Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch.

Until the Cabinet shuffle last week, Cabinet ministers Don Boudria and John Manley were also scheduled to speak at the conference. John Dossetor, Vice President of Government Relations for Monsanto Canada, is also scheduled to speak. Manley and Dossetor are involved in separate situations about which Democracy Watch has filed complaints with the Ethics Counsellor.

- 30 -

Duff Conacher, Coordinator
Tel: (613) 241-5179
or view the campaign page of the Government Ethics Coalition