Retail politics

Last week, provincial New Democrat legislator John Horgan introduced legislation that, if passed, would prohibit political aides from lobbying the government until 24 months after leaving their jobs. That's a capital idea. And it seems Finance Minister Carole Taylor's ministerial assistant Max Logan must think so too. Because he's giving everyone an example as to why such legislation might be necessary. On Monday, he left his job to become a government relations and members services director for the Retail Council of Canada - the principal lobby group for the country's retailers.

In an interview with Public Eye, Minister Taylor said that when, she learned Mr. Logan would be joining the retail council - an organization with a significant interest in finance ministry decisions - she requested he leave his post immediately rather than wait the customary two weeks. Minister Taylor also sent Mr. Logan a letter stating the neither she nor her office would have any contact with him for one year.

Asked about that decision, Mr. Horgan said "I'm curious as to what authority, what guidelines, what policy, what legislation the minister is relying on to restrict Mr. Logan's rights as he leaves a position that currently has no restrictions (on post-employment lobbying) to go into the government relations business. If she thinks it's a good idea, then why don't we have legislation so she can have some force behind her good ideas?"

Questioned whether she would support such legislation - which would apply to all political staffers - Minister Taylor said, "I believe every ministry has different issues...But, for me, in finance I think it was important to make that break."

Minister Taylor's instructions to Mr. Logan are odds with past Campbell administration practice, which has seen a number of political aides leave the legislature and immediately begin working as lobbyists. Asked about the matter, she said "It would be difficult for me - because I'm a newbie - to talk about what the practice has been in the past what it's like for other ministries. So I think I'll just stick with what I know, which is finance, and why I acted the way I did."

6 Comments

Taylor is dead wrong.

People went into jobs with the knowledge that they would be permitted to work unfettered post-government.

You might argue that there should or shouldn't be such guidelines--fair enough. The Ottawa Tories have a crazy 5 year exclusion for office holders--extreme, yes, but all staffers know the rules of the game.

But to change the game once someone has made a decision to enter and subsequently leave government is not appropriate.

I don't often do this, but I agree with Horgan, that Taylor is on very thin ice.

Do you think that the Campbell Government is a bit sensitive to Lobbyist's these days?

Lobbying is the new emerging industry within this administration - whether Taylor likes it or not.

In my view Taylor is right, but she is also too coy by half with her "newbie" comment.

Christ, she's finance minister and she won't even come out and say conflicts of interest are conflicts of interest regardless of ministry.

How cute!

There is no legislation, but there is certainly the perception in the public's mind that the former staffer will benefit directly from his or her government service and contacts and could easily use those contacts, thus a conflict.

Don't like that, then don't get into politics, elected or backroom and if you are going to be a real civil servant, be a real civil servants and forget about turning the work you do under an oath of loyalty to your government into personal gain. It's wrong, just plain wrong.

Horgan's 24 month waiting period ought to be a bare minimum.

I cannot, for the life of me, believe the bullshit minimum bar requirement for waiting, both for this fellow and Dobell, etc.

You should not be able to come back and lobby anyone for anything for ten years post-appointment as staffer.

Too Draconian??? Think this through.....

Often times, regardless of Government, DM's and such toil away for a minimum of five years...how much do internal Ministry staff change...not as often as one might think.

Jesus Murphy, one term and half a contract's gone!

You go back, you chat up all your old freinds and people who owe you their jobs and presto, it's your own perosnal ATM.

This is a joke. The NDP and Liberals are both wrong. Ten years no return, minimum and tough penalities for those who dance around the rules--period.

The public purse should not be a contractor's bloody trough.

As is often the case, particular moves on individual issues can relate to leadership ambitions. Taylor is deliberately differentiating herself from Campbell on this matter, putting out a signal that says "I understand the need for higher standards".

Budd:

Finally, an astute comment! Now think about what you said within the context of the Basi/Virk affair - because then you will know the reason why it is only the Basi's and Virk who are now on trial.

Leave a comment

Copyright © 2004 - Public Eye Mediaworks. Reproductions of any portion of this Website are permitted only with the expressed permission of Public Eye Mediaworks.
Canadian Web Hosting graciously provided by dotcanuck Web Services. Layout and graphics courtesy of Art Department Design.