It is not often that the Toronto Star provides free advertising for the corrupters among us. Instead of the ladies and gentlemen so described paying for the Star’s attention, it might even be grounds for some charges of defamation. It is hardly a public service for Star reporters to say that these people did something wrong by representing the interests of their clients to the Ontario government. It is particularly disturbing that the Star charges that these conservative lobbyists cashed in because of their relations with the conservative party.
As a person who was lobbying government many years ago, I object on these lobbyists’ behalf. Though, I admit that for the conservative government to be so easily used in this manner should be a disappointment to the citizens of Ontario. My experience at lobbying was something of an accident. In fact, until a chance meeting, I actually looked down on those who lobbied.
What changed my mind about it was a conversation I had with someone whom I trusted and respected as a fellow liberal. We bumped into each other on the Wellington Street bridge over the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. I was heading from my hotel to the Centre Block of the parliament buildings. He was on his way from the prime minister’s office (PMO) to a meeting. He was a defeated candidate in the recent election and was now working in the PMO for prime minister Pierre Trudeau.
Since both our meetings had to do with lobbying government, the topic came up. He pointed out that as a previous lobbyist, he was in a very different position evaluating lobbyist pitches for the PMO. He explained the need in government to hear different opinions and the value of these lobbying efforts. He assured me that as long as I was up-front about my bias and that I was on retainer of the subject company, it was on the up and up.
I also learned very quickly in that role that I had to work twice as hard with the civil servants. You learn to never underestimate the influence of a deputy minister, a director general or anybody from the Privy Council Office.
Interesting enough, the largest contract I ever personally undertook for the federal government was when the Mulroney conservatives were in power.
Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry
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