Thursday, February 16, 2006


A Different Colour Pig at the Trough - Blue, not Red - Update

Lang Michener, one of Canada's premier business law firms, recently announced that The Honourable John D. Reynolds, P.C., joins the firm as Senior Strategic Advisor on February 15, 2006. That wouldn't be the same John Reynolds associated with Conservative's who want to tighten lobby restrictions, would it? YUP.

John Reynolds to lobby. That is a shock. It has been speculated for a couple of weeks, but now it is official. Messrs. Reynolds has official made good on his comment that a campaign is just a campaign.

Flashback to Campaign 2006:

Lobbying reform was a big issue for the Conservatives in this past campaign. Stephen Harper and the gang were all about lobbying reform and ethics. PM Stephen Harper and the Conservative government? Not so much.

To refresh your memory, here what the CPC's was campaigning on just over TWO weeks ago:

Toughen the lobbyists registration act. Under the Liberals, lobbying government – often by friends and associates of Liberal ministers – has become a multi-million dollar industry. Senior Liberals moved freely back and forth between elected and non-elected government posts and the world of lobbying.

The Conservative government plan:

• Extend to five years the period during which former ministers, ministerial staffers, and senior public servants cannot lobby government.

• Ban success or contingency fee arrangements.

•Require ministers and senior government officials to record their contacts with lobbyists.

• Make the Registrar of Lobbyists an independent Officer of Parliament.

• Give the Registrar of Lobbyists the mandate and resources to investigate violations.

• Extend to ten years the period during which violations can be investigated and prosecuted.

With Gordon O'Connor and John Reynolds recent appointments, I would say the Conservatives are off to a fine start.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Reynolds was recently sworn into the Privy Council (subscription) and now is set to lobby government. Under the old Liberal ways, Conservative bloggers and pundits would have been screaming bloody murder. Now, however, something tells me there will be talk of smart, strategic decisions as opposed to hypocricy. Just a hunch.

This is one of their main services Lang offers clients. I would suspect that John may aid them in this.

Globe Article - Feb 8th - Scroll down to see the bold

Raising the age of consent 'a priority' for Tories


OTTAWA -- Justice Minister Vic Toews says reform of the justice system will begin shortly after the House returns in April, and one of the first items on his agenda will be increasing the age of sexual consent.

"One of the issues that I would like to see brought forward as quickly as possible is the age of protection, raising that from 14 to 16, and looking at, of course, bringing in a close-in-age exemption," Mr. Toews told reporters after the first caucus meeting of the new governing Conservative party.

"We don't want to criminalize consenting sexual conduct between youth. We want to protect young people from adult sexual predators."

Raising the age of consent is an issue that has been pushed hard by socially right-wing lobby groups such as the Canada Family Action Coalition. It has also been the focus of private members' bills entered by other members of the Tory caucus.

If Mr. Toews is successful, he will go some small distance toward satisfying those supporters who look to his party for action on the small-c conservative social agenda. That group may have been feeling some frustration after being told that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not initiate action on abortion and would accept any outcome of a free vote in the Commons on same-sex marriage.

If raising the age of consent is done as a stand-alone bill, it could be accomplished fairly quickly, Mr. Toews said. "That's a priority of our government. That's an example of how I would like to proceed."

But former Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler said the issue has been taken out of context. Non-consensual sex is assault and is illegal at any age, he said. And it is illegal for young people under 18 to be exploited through pornography, prostitution or in a relationship of trust, authority or dependency.

"We don't want to criminalize consensual sexual activity which can range anywhere from kissing to sexual intercourse among young people," he said.

The appointment of Mr. Toews as Justice Minister is not without controversy. The member from Provencher in Manitoba was attorney-general in his own province before being elected federally, and, last year, he pleaded guilty to the charge of exceeding personal campaign expense limits in the 1999 provincial election.

He has also been criticized for his willingness to use the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution to override court decisions that he considers out of touch with the will of the people.
During the election campaign, for instance, the Liberals distributed excerpts from an interview he did with a U.S. right-wing organization in 2003 in which he said: "We have seen these radical liberal judges who have their own social agenda coming to the bench and forgetting that their responsibility is to interpret the law and not to make law. And so we are very, very concerned about that."

Mr. Toews has also been one of the leaders within his caucus in the fight to restore the traditional definition of marriage, all of which has left him a prime target of denunciation by the social left.

In his first news conference after being sworn in to cabinet, he said he would welcome U.S.-style review hearings for candidates to fill Supreme Court openings, possibly starting with a vacancy that currently needs to be filled. Mr. Toews said yesterday that he would like to move on that appointment as quickly as possible.

Mr. Toews's indications of his plans came as Mr. Harper moved quickly on some of his own, including announcing that party stalwart John Reynolds had been made a member of the Privy Council.

Twenty-six parliamentary secretaries were sworn in yesterday, including Calgary Southwest MP Jason Kenney, who was named to assist Mr. Harper, and James Moore of British Columbia, who will have the tough job of being parliamentary secretary to a Public Works Minister who, as a senator, will be unavailable to take questions in the House.

Rahim Jaffer of Edmonton has been named caucus chairman and Jay Hill of Prince George-Peace River is the Conservative Whip.

Isn't great when your party is out of power, you can be indignant about everything. The Blogging Tories are going to be dull for the next while, kind of how the Liblogs have been so boring since it's inception.

I agree, if Reynolds is indeed a member of the Privy Council.

Pass the FAA and Reynolds should have to reliquish his post at Lang Michener.

(double check your link under "Privy Council" - I am not a registered member to the G&M webpage, but it looked like a different story. Correct me if I'm wrong.)
But today in the paper John Reynolds said he would not dare lobby his friend Stephen Harper, so everything is okay.
I believe him because we are no longer campaigning and so what people say actual matters.

Stand up for Canada.
"Reynolds was recently sworn into the Privy Council..."

BFD - a largely ceremonial body consisting of all current and former Cabinet Ministers, SC Justices, and others among the great and the good. Don't confuse "Privy Council" with "Cabinet" - even though the Secretary to the Cabinet is the Clerk of the Privy Council, and the Cabinet Secretariat is the PCO.

The one function I can find for the Privy Council is that they get to proclaim a new King or Queen when the current Monarch dies. I don't see a conflict of interest there, do you?
Actually members of the Privy Council can be disclosed information that is not available to the public under the Offical Secrets Act. It is one of the reasons why Paul Martin had his parliamentary secretaries sworn in as members fo the Privy Council.

I doubt John Reynolds is going to be doing work for companies interested in national security or defense issues, but you never know. The more germane point is not that he is a privy councillor, but that he can get top level access to key members of the Harper government, and that some of his clients may want him to do this. This is the sort of thing the Conservatives said they were running against.
"This is the sort of thing the Conservatives said they were running against."

Ummm... No.

The FAA is described as prohibiting a Cabinet Minister or senior government official from moving into a lobbying position within five years. Reynolds was not in Cabinet, and he was not a government official at any level.

There seems to be a great tendency to project onto the Tories whatever hopes one might have had for government, accompanied by indignation that they are failing to live up to the projected hopes of the observer. Not perhaps in all cases, but certainly in many, the observer complaining now is one who had no sympathy for the Tories' postion before the election, who decried any attempt at cleaning up government, and believed that corruptions was not nearly as big a deal as -say- day care, same sex marriage, the Kyoto protocol, or the Notwithstanding Clause. This leads me to suspect that a claimed lack of ethics is less a genuine concern than a handy club with which to beat on an ideological enemy.
Deaner, what you just said deserves to be written in mile-high letters of gold.
Being appointed to the Privy Council is largely a ceremonial role unless you are part of the Cabinet (or Govt House Leader, in the case of Jay Hill).

Reynolds will mainly be hosting parties for his clients. If Harper Cabinet Ministers attend these parties, presumably the Liberal party (which has deep roots at Lang Michener) will tell us about it.

Perhaps we should wait for the FAA before jumping the gun. The Liberals and the NDP will have a chance to tighten possible loopholes once it goes to Committee.

We will all see how committed they are to ethics then, won't we?
Actually this is the sort of thing the Conservatives campaigned against, it may not be in the letter of the Federal Accountability Act, but it is in the spirit of the act that they communicated to Canadians. I quote from the speech when Harper introduced the act to Canadians before the federal election, "Politics will no longer be a stepping stone to a lucrative career lobbying government."

Or lets see what Harper said a few days to the Empire Club in Toronto,"I have told my own MPs and parliamentary staffers that if they have ambitions to use public office to advance their own interests or get rich lobbying a future conservative government, they had better make different plans, or leave." And while yes John Reynolds did leave public office, certainly Harper was inferring that he was not going to allow ex-MPs, particularly ones that were so key in his election campaign, have influence.

The Conservatives are going to have to accept that there not only has to be no impropriety, but also not the apperance of impropriety if they run on a campaign of ethics. And saying that ethics was not as important as Kyoto or same-sex marriage is beyond the pale; the Conservatives constantly reminded us during and after the campaign the FAA is one of their top five priorities. No such claim can be made about Kyoto or same-sex marriage.

Lastly, I object to the comment "This leads me to suspect that a claimed lack of ethics is less a genuine concern than a handy club with which to beat on an ideological enemy." If we want a country founded on good government and productive public discourse we must not only hold the parties we oppose to high standards, but also whatever party we chose to support.
If we want a country founded on good government and productive public discourse we must not only hold the parties we oppose to high standards, but also whatever party we chose to support.

I'm with Keith on this one. Easy to indignant and talk self-righteously about high standards now... but why did we put up with a dozen years of the Chretien & Martin show? Where were your objections then?
"Lastly, I object to the comment..."

Southie - I wasn't pointing fingers; I haven't been hanging around here long enough to do that. I was making a general observation that many people who never had a good word to say about Harper or the CPC are suddenly indignant that they "are not living up to" some policy that they never promised and never included in the platform. If that doesn't include you, then feel free to ignore it. The real test of Harper's integrity will be whether he allows Reynolds extraordiary access to the PMO or the Cabinet. Harper can't control what Reynolds does, he can only control what he and his Ministers do - so why not watch and see?

The Harper government will be held to the standards it set during the campaign.

The Conservatives ran the best campaign and deserved their victory. They did, however, talk about cleaning up Ottawa and so far they are setting a lousy example.
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