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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Registering political speech: Harper welcomes new Commissioner of Lobbying

Stephen Harper Prime Minister Stephen Harper today welcomed the appointment of Karen Shepherd as Canada's new Commissioner of Lobbying.  The appointment was recently approved by the Senate and House of Commons and is effective immediately.

In its Federal Accountability Act and Action Plan, the Conservative Government introduced specific measures to help strengthen accountability and increase transparency and oversight in government operations.

A key component of the Federal Accountability Act, the position of Commissioner of Lobbying was established July 2, 2008, under the Lobbying Act, to ensure that lobbying is transparent and ethical.  The Commissioner enforces the lobbyist registration law, conducts investigations and reports to Parliament.

In a Western Standard report in April 2009 titled “Don’t restrict lobbyists; restrict government,” I wrote:

It’s easy to hate lobbyists. Most voters think lobbyists sneak around representing the interests of either big business or big labour, undermining the democratic process.

Lobbyists, of course, proliferate directly in correlation to the size and scope of government and the corresponding opportunities to rent seek, free ride, curry favour, and generally live at the expense of others.

So the Federal Accountability Act, the Lobbyist Registration Act and other government measures to restrict and monitor lobbyists address a symptom while ignoring the disease. These measures also expand the power of government to restrict political activity, much like the draconian campaign finance laws, all in the interest of democracy.

If Harper is interested in creating accountability, transparency and oversight in government, he should start by making it smaller.

(Picture: Stephen Harper)

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on June 30, 2009 | Permalink


Why not appoint a Lobbying Czar?

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-06-30 8:56:08 PM

Yep, lobbyists only exist because of the power that government has in legislating business and industry. If they had their grubby hands out of that stuff then lobbyists wouldn't have a need to exist.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-06-30 11:12:09 PM

Smells fishy to me, Harper can control lobbyists thru one person, who is of course beholden to him. I also agree with Scott.

Posted by: Steve Bottrell | 2009-07-01 1:19:54 AM

I always used to vote Conservative, but Harper and Stelmach have turned me away, I can't a Conservative from a Liberal. Now I'm lost. Guess I'll vote Green. A protest vote is better than no vote I guess.

Posted by: Steve Bottrell | 2009-07-01 1:23:40 AM

For when a Commissioner that ensure this government stop selling Canada to U.S. interests ?

Posted by: Marc | 2009-07-01 2:10:24 AM

Shouldn't that read "Commissioner of Corruption"?
Steve I'm with you, there are no conservatives left to vote for. So either I'll Libertarian, Wildrose or not at all. But a vote for the Greens is a vote for Communism.

Posted by: The original JC | 2009-07-01 5:11:09 AM

For when a Commissioner that ensure this government stop selling Canada to U.S. interests ?
Posted by: Marc | 2009-07-01 2:10:24 AM

Marc, think bigger. Its not US interests...its "Global" interests.

Posted by: The original JC | 2009-07-01 5:13:52 AM

Steve, agreed, except that no vote is also a protest vote that does not endorse the Greens, who are big time socialists right now.

Posted by: TM | 2009-07-01 9:03:27 AM

I had Gordon Campbell in mind at first but Harper has become equally qualified for the following: The "Conservative" / BC liberal think tank consists of the Party big shots surrounded by a bunch of sophomoric political science grads, interns, and spin doctors holed up in a conference centre breakout room led by a high priced facilitator with a white board. The facilitator asks the collected hacks "what would the NDP do?". he then scribbles the bullets on the white board and before the session ends, most points are well on the way to becoming Party policy and the interns start drafting the legislation.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2009-07-01 9:53:41 AM

That it addresses a symptom instead of the disease is well put. It is also true that if government was not involved in people's private affairs and business, lobbyists would be without a job. Right again that lobbyists are not limited to "big business", since probably most of them represent the numerous special interest groups. We would be better off without lobbyists and a government not involved in business, agriculture and our private lives, and where the government is accountable to the people.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-07-01 11:05:55 AM

Hear hear Matthew! Now try and sell that to Canadians ...

Posted by: Charles | 2009-07-02 5:34:53 AM

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