DINGWALL AND TPC MESS COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED IF FORMER ETHICS COUNSELLOR AND LOBBYIST REGISTRAR HAD DONE THEIR JOBS PROPERLY
Monday, October 17, 2005
OTTAWA - Today, Democracy Watch called on the federal government to pursue all possible avenues to hold former Ethics Counsellor Howard Wilson and former Registrar of Lobbyists Diane Champagne-Paul accountable and penalize them for failing to catch and prevent former Liberal Cabinet minister David Dingwall from entering into illegal contingency fee arrangements as a lobbyist for companies seeking contracts from the Technology Partnerships Canada (TPC) fund.
Incredibly, Diane Champagne-Paul is still in an ethics enforcement position as the Director of the MPs Code of Conduct for the current Ethics Commissioner Bernard Shapiro. After Bill C-4 eliminated the Ethics Counsellor position in May 2004, Howard Wilson took a paid leave of several months (worth a total of about $80,000) and then retired in late 2004.
“The entire unethical, wasteful mess involving David Dingwall and the TPC fund would have been prevented if former Ethics Counsellor Howard Wilson and former Registrar of Lobbyists Diane Champagne-Paul had done their jobs properly,” said Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch. “They must be held accountable for failing to penalize people involved in clearly unethical, illegal activities, and for failing to disclose these activities to the public.”
David Dingwall reported in his Lobbyists Registration Act (LRA) registrations that he was in a contingency fee arrangement lobbying for a TPC "contract" for BioNiche Lifesciences Inc. from May 18, 2000 and March 21, 2003, and that he was in a contingency fee arrangement lobbying for a contract with the Privacy Commissioner's office for Prolific Technologies Inc. from July 19, 2000 to March 21, 2003.
Clearly, the Registrar of Lobbyists had (and continues to have) the responsibility to alert the department or agency that places a contract for bidding that one of the bidders is violating the Treasury Board policy banning contingency fees, and the Registrar also clearly had the responsibility to alert the former Ethics Counsellor, who at the time enforced the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct and restrictions on lobbying by former Cabinet ministers.
The Lobbyists' Code requires lobbyists to act "with integrity" and to "observe the highest professional and ethical standards" and to "conform fully with not only the letter but the spirit of . . . all the relevant laws." Clearly, the Ethics Counsellor, if he was doing his job properly, would have found Dingwall guilty, in the required public report to Parliament, of violating these Code rules by being in illegal contingency fee arrangements. In a July 2004 ruling, the Federal Court found that Wilson was biased in a way that made effective enforcement of the Code impossible. (Decision of Federal Court in Democracy Watch v. Office of the Ethics Counsellor (July 9, 2004))
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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Democracy Watch's Government Ethics Campaign
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