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Media Release


Friday, March 8, 2002

OTTAWA - Today, Democracy Watch raised several ethical concerns about the Canadian Alliance leadership race, including the complete absence of limits on campaign spending and donations, no requirement to disclose donations and donors, and at least one instance of an active lobbyist holding a senior campaign position. These problems are common in many federal party leadership races because of the lack of any regulations covering the races.

"It's not only undemocratic, but also very inconsistent to regulate general elections but not leadership campaigns which can lead to the election of a Prime Minister or opposition leader," said Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch.

According to a recent media report, federal Ethics Counsellor Howard Wilson has said he will probe the links between Liberal cabinet ministers and lobbyists working on their leadership campaigns and likely rule on whether such relationships violate federal ethics rules. Democracy Watch calls on the Ethics Counsellor to assess all leadership campaigns given that s. 2(1) of the Lobbyists Registration Act clearly defines "public office holder" as including "a member of the Senate or the House of Commons and any person on the staff of such a member."

Democracy Watch believes that lobbyists working for any party leadership candidate can easily violate Rule 8 of the Lobbyists Code of Conduct, which 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."

Requests by Democracy Watch to all Canadian Alliance leadership campaigns revealed that Timothy Powers is a senior strategist and communications advisor on Grant Hill's leadership campaign. Powers is also registered as a lobbyist for eight clients (PLEASE SEE list of Powers' clients set out below). According to the list of senior positions provided by the Stephen Harper campaign (which may not be the complete list of his campaign team) no lobbyists are working on his team. Despite repeated requests, Diane Albonczy's and Stockwell Day's campaigns refused to provide the names of their senior campaign officials.

"Lobbyists working for public officials, including during leadership campaigns, can easily create conflicts of interest" said Conacher. "The rule should be either choose to be a lobbyist or to work with politicians, but not both at the same time."

In addition, Democracy Watch believes that all leadership races raise serious questions about violations of the Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders (the Public Office Holders Code) which sets out 10 principles that every public office holder must follow, including that they shall: "uphold the highest ethical standards so that public confidence and trust in the integrity, objectivity and impartiality of government are conserved and enhanced" and "arrange their private affairs in a manner that will prevent real, potential or apparent conflicts of interest from arising."

In the past, the Ethics Counsellor has unfortunately and incorrectly claimed that the 10 principles in Part I of the Public Office Holders Code do not apply to all members of Parliament, even though the Code reads "Every public office holder shall conform" to the principles. Democracy Watch believes the principles apply to all members of Parliament, including opposition members and Senators, and believes that the other parts of the Code should be extended to all public office holders. In any case, Canadian courts have established in their rulings laws concerning conflicts of interest that apply to all public office holders.

Democracy Watch also has concerns about the lack of accountability and transparency in the financing of leadership campaigns. In the current race, the Canadian Alliance has failed to establish any limits to campaign spending or on the amount that an individual or organization can donate to a candidate. Morever, candidates are not required to disclose the identity of donors. So much for keeping the party's promise to end politics as usual.

"Party leadership races are an ideal time for donors to influence the direction of parties, and ultimately the government. When candidates are allowed to fundraise in secret, it is reasonable to ask what they have to hide," said Aaron Freeman, Board member of Democracy Watch. "Are donors or lobbyists being given inside access? This is a reasonable question for the public to ask, and it will only be answered if the rules are changed to require disclosure."

"Canadians have a right to know who is bankrolling a future political leader," said Freeman. "The federal government should follow B.C. and Ontario's lead, and the recent recommendation by the head of Elections Canada, and require disclosure of donations and donors in leadership races."

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Duff Conacher, Coordinator
Tel: (613) 241-5179
or view Democracy Watch's Government Ethics Campaign page or Money in Politics Campaign page

Registered Lobbying Activities of Tim Powers
(Lobbyist #: 0008424)

Government of Yukon
Registration Date - 2000/03/07 (still active)

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (Yukon Chapter)
Registration Date - 2000/05/24
Termination Date - 2002/01/18

Kimberley-Clark Inc.
Registration Date - 2000/07/31
Termination Date - 2002/01/18

Emera Inc.
Registration Date - 2000/09/05 (still active)

White Mountain Academy of the Arts
Registration Date - 2000/09/29
Termination Date - 2002/01/18

CGI Information Systems and Management Consultants
Registration Date - 2000/10/11 (still active)

International Fund for Animal Welfare-Canada
Registration Date - 2000/10/11 (still active)

Mounted Police Members' Legal Fund
Registration Date - 2002/01/18 (still active)