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The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Non-voters and Influence #nlpoli

There is a new scourge among us.

An evil that causes “problems”.

Russell Wangersky found them and wrote about them this past weekend.

They are the people who do not vote.

(Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Who is lobbying whom these days? #nlpoli

When it needed a lobbyist in Ottawa to monitor the federal environmental review process for its Kami project, Alderon Iron Ore turned to Summa Strategies and a well-connected fellow named Tim Powers.

You can find out information like this thanks to the federal registry of lobbyists.  Powers’ registration number for the Alderon gig is 777504-308605.  It’s a matter of public record.

For those who may not know, Powers is also a registered lobbyist (777504-14002) for Nalcor Energy in its dealings with the federal government.  Again, it’s a matter of public record. 

But what about Alderon’s dealings with the provincial government and its agency, Nalcor Energy?  Did they have anyone interceding on their behalf? 

Good question. 

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer.

(Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Lobbying Act’s ban on lobbying by former ministers no hindrance if they’re hired as presidents and CEOs of lobby firms

A Conservative cabinet minister turned lobbying firm president, top row, centre right, with part of the team of lobbyists he supervises. Actual lobby group CEOs and their lobbying staffs may not appear exactly as illustrated. For one thing, even one bow tie would never be allowed! Below, an actual former federal minister of state turned lobby organization president and CEO, Ted Menzies.

Perhaps like me, you imagined the federal Lobbying Act’s unequivocal five-year ban on lobbying by Designated Public Office Holders like former cabinet ministers would prevent such persons from becoming presidents and CEOs of lobbying organizations.

If that’s what (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On self-interest

With Chuck Strahl’s massive conflict of interest between lobbying and patronage appointments already making news, the revelation that Vic Toews has found his way into the lobbying industry (having seemingly planned for it before he’d even resigned from Parliament) looks all the more noteworthy. And Toews’ assertion that a lawyer who would seem to have accumulated substantial pensions through three different public roles has “got to make a living” trading off his political connections speaks volumes about how far removed Stephen Harper and has cabinet ministers are from the reality facing most Canadians.

That said, Toews’ position does seem (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Former federal Tory Chuck Strahl’s lobbying activities break no laws, but highlight a problem

Lobbyists gather in the lobby of the House of Commons at Westminster. Below: Politician turned lobbyist Chuck Strahl, B.C. Lobbying Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.

Notwithstanding his classification as a Designated Public Office Holder under the federal Lobbying Act, former Reform Party, Canadian Alliance and Conservative office holder Chuck Strahl is breaking no laws or regulations by registering and operating as a lobbyist in British Columbia.

Something is wrong with this picture if you accept the rationale for most Canadian lobbying legislation, but you can hardly blame Mr. Strahl for it unless you’re one of those folks who thinks citizens should (Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Skinner and the useless provincial lobby law #nlpoli

Shawn Skinner used to be a provincial cabinet minister.

Now he works for a construction company trying to get a major contract at Muskrat Falls. Skinner is the senior director of business development with Aecon.

Presumably that job involves him meeting with or arranging meetings with people at Nalcor and the provincial government in an effort to land the Big Contract.

So why isn’t Shawn  – or anyone else connected to his company – registered as a lobbyist as required by the lobbyist registration law Shawn and his Conservative colleagues introduced in 2004?

Good question.

(Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Robert Reich asks a few impertinent (but important) questions about plutocratic encroachment on the U.S.’ political system.

- Catherine McKenna explains why it’s important to try to make a difference in our political system. But Chris Cobb reports on what happens to those who try under the Cons’ regime.

- Gerald Caplan wonders whether anybody involved in the Clusterduff – including Stephen Harper, his chief of staff, his hand-picked senators and his core office staff – has ever told anything approaching the truth. But I think we’ve already established the (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Keystone XL Pipeline Lobbyists Have Deep Ties to White House

By: Pratap Chatterjee

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TransCanada and the provincial government of Alberta are paying former advisors to the Obama administration – as well as former staff of the Hillary Clinton and John Kerry presidential campaigns – to help them lobby for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to transport tar sands fuel to the U.S.

The pipeline from Alberta – which is to be built by TransCanada – has been delayed for over four years pending approval from the U.S. State Department which has final say because it crosses the international border. President Barack Obama is expected to (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Massive anti-tar sands protest to greet PM Stephen Harper in London

By: Obert Madondo Twitter: @Obiemad

A massive anti-tar sands protest will greet Prime Minister Stephen Harper when he arrives in London on Thursday en route to the June 17-18 G8 summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland.

The UK Tar Sands Network and a coalition of environmentalists hope to show Harper “that there is huge opposition to tar sands in the UK”. And that Canada’s lobbying against the EU’s fuel quality directive is unacceptable.

The organizers also argue that Harper is unworthy of the honour of addressing the UK Parliament. Harper is scheduled to deliver the first speech by a Canadian PM to the British (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Tories spend on Keystone XL ads, while cutting environment funding

Canadians should be outraged that the Harper Conservatives are spending millions of taxpayers money lobbying for the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. while cutting environmental funding.

The post Tories spend on Keystone XL ads, while cutting environment funding appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- As would-be frackers show us exactly why it’s dangerous to give the corporate sector a veto over government action, Steven Shrybman suggests that corporations are mostly doing only what we’d expect in exploiting agreements designed to prioritize profits over people: Canadian businesses are simply playing by the rules of free trade which encourages the outsourcing of everthing that isn’t glued to the local Tim Hortons or the tar sands (to cite two prominent examples): that means value-added processing (where the jobs are) of natural resources that are simply ripped and shipped to the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Friday reading.

- Michael Moss writes about the amount of time and money spent by corporate conglomerates to push consumers toward eating unhealthy food: The public and the food companies have known for decades now — or at the very least since this meeting — that sugary, salty, fatty foods are not good for us in the quantities that we consume them. So why are the diabetes and obesity and hypertension numbers still spiraling out of control? It’s not just a matter of poor willpower on the part of the consumer and a give-the-people-what-they-want attitude on

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Alberta Diary: Order of Canada for Stevie Cameron sets the right tone for the coming Year of Mulroney

Happy New Year … and this time I mean it! Author and cook Stevie Cameron wearing the official regalia of a member of the Order of Canada. Actual Order of Canada recipients may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Ms. Cameron; Brian Mulroney, the 18th prime minister of Canada, wearing his OiC pin in his official portrait by Igor Babailov, which kind of captures the guy, you have to admit.

What a delightful and ironic twist on which to end one year and start another was the announcement yesterday that Stevie Cameron had been awarded the Order of

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Order of Canada for Stevie Cameron sets the right tone for the coming Year of Mulroney

Accidental Deliberations: On revealed connections

Simon Enoch’s study mapping corporate power in Saskatchewan may be one of the most important pieces of research I’ve seen in quite some time – and I’ll highly encourage visitors to give it a thorough read. But I’ll quibble with one aspect of Enoch’s conclusion – he’s done more work to tie together multiple stands of corporate influence than his proposed policy prescription could possibly hope to accomplish.

After analyzing the board and executive structures of corporations, interest groups and government structures alike and demonstrating the striking correlation between them, Enoch’s headline takeaway is this: As record amounts of corporate

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On revealed connections

Accidental Deliberations: On needed advantages

Thanks in large part to an extremely active provincial leadership campaign, I haven’t discussed the evolution of the federal NDP over the past few months in as much detail as I’d like. But while there will be plenty more to talk about over the next little while, I’ll comment on a couple of the new stories emerging at the end of the fall sitting of Parliament.

Let’s start with this from Lawrence Martin: For New Democrats, it’s time for a national powwow. National leader Thomas Mulcair is planning to bring together all provincial NDP leaders for a party conference in

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On needed advantages

Canadian Progressive: Harper Conservatives and Big Oil turning Canada into a “petro-state”

by The Polaris Institute | December 4, 2012:

A new report entitled “Big Oil’s Oily Grasp – The making of Canada as a Petro-State and how oil money is corrupting Canadian politics” released today by the Ottawa-based Polaris Institute found that six main oil industry players, including Enbridge and TransCanada, met with federal cabinet ministers 53 times between September 2011 and September 2012, the period when the business-friendly Bill C-38 – which guts environmental legislation – was being designed.

. . . → Read More: Canadian Progressive: Harper Conservatives and Big Oil turning Canada into a “petro-state”

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Richard Thaler criticizes Mitt Romney’s obsession with upper-end tax cuts by pointing out the factors which actually serve to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship: Romney wants to cut top rates by 20 percent, maintain the favorable treatment given to capital gains and dividends, and completely eliminate the estate tax, which currently only kicks in on estates in excess of $5 million for an individual or $10 million for a (heterosexual) married couple.

In other words, this is a strategy that emphasizes maximizing the after-tax returns if and when you hit it big. Yet

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

DeSmogBlog: Fuel Economy Standards To Save U.S. Consumers Billions, Create Jobs, Yet Republicans Say Too Expensive

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A proposed rule by the Obama Administration to raise fuel economy standards for cars and “light-trucks” is facing mounting attacks by Republican lawmakers. The proposed rule would require all newly manufactured automobiles that fall under the car or light truck category to achieve a minimum gas mileage of 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025.

The crusade against the new CAFE standards is being led by Republican Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Issa claims that the new standards amount to “coercion” of the auto industry.

. . . → Read More: DeSmogBlog: Fuel Economy Standards To Save U.S. Consumers Billions, Create Jobs, Yet Republicans Say Too Expensive

DeSmogBlog: US Chamber Rejoices As Courts Rule For Polluters

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Earlier this week, an appellate court in Washington, D.C. ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had overstepped their authority with their Transport Rule that was put in place to reduce the amount of air pollution being spewed from coal burning plants. The rule would have put stringent limits on the amount of pollution that was being emitted and carried across state lines by weather.

The Courier-Journal has more:

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found in a 2-1 ruling that the EPA

. . . → Read More: DeSmogBlog: US Chamber Rejoices As Courts Rule For Polluters

DeSmogBlog: How Do You Spend $375 Million A Day? Ask The Oil Industry

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The average U.S. household has seen both their net worth and their average income steadily decline over the last seven years. Unemployment in the United States still remains at uncomfortably high levels, and the poverty rate is about to reach highs that haven’t been seen since the 1960’s. But as average citizens are struggling to provide food for their families and gainful employment, there are a special few in the U.S.A. who have more cash than they know what to do with. Those special few would be the oil industry.

While most of us

. . . → Read More: DeSmogBlog: How Do You Spend $375 Million A Day? Ask The Oil Industry

DeSmogBlog: Enbridge Mismanagement Caused Kalamazoo Tragedy, Says NTSB

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Enbridge, the Canadian company poised to build the controversial Northern Gateway Pipeline, received a scathing assessment this week from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) after an inquiry into a 2010 pipeline rupture in Michigan revealed the company’s mismanagement of what unfolded into a “tragic and needless” disaster.

A combination of “human error” and miscommunication culminated in the reckless release of over 843,000 gallons of Albertan diluted bitumen from the Enbridge Line 6B into the Kalamazoo River. The investigation found that 81 percent of the tar sands oil spill was the result of the . . . → Read More: DeSmogBlog: Enbridge Mismanagement Caused Kalamazoo Tragedy, Says NTSB

DeSmogBlog: Marcellus Money: Statehouse Bought and Sold by Shale Gas Industry in PA

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Consider it official: the Pennsylvania statehouse has been bought and sold by the shale gas industry, confirmed today, yet again, by MarcellusMoney.org. 

In a press release, Marcellus Money, a project of Common Cause of Pennsylvania and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania laid out the sobering facts about the frackers' stranglehold over the PA state government, writing,

The natural gas industry and related trade groups have now given nearly $8 million to Pennsylvania state candidates and political committees since 2000…Top recipients of industry money given between 2000 and April 2012 were Governor Tom Corbett

. . . → Read More: DeSmogBlog: Marcellus Money: Statehouse Bought and Sold by Shale Gas Industry in PA

CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE WORLD: Enbridge executive’s company awarded first crime Bill C-10 $38.5-million prison project

Executive and company have strong and lucrative ties with the Canadian military and Harper government.

Opponents of the Conservative government’s crime Bill C-10 were justified to argue that private companies would profiteer from the new jail system the legislation proposed for Canada. On Tuesday, the Canadian Press reported that a Toronto-based construction company, Bird Construction Inc., had been awarded the contract to build the $38.5-million North East Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Nova Scotia. The 200-bed facility is due to open in 2014.

Turns out there’s a connection between the company and Enbridge Inc.: a man named J.

. . . → Read More: CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE WORLD: Enbridge executive’s company awarded first crime Bill C-10 $38.5-million prison project

CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE WORLD: Private prison companies look to Canada as industry faces lawsuits in US

US states are beginning to rely less on privately run prisons, but Canada may be a land of opportunity for the two biggest firms

By: BILBO POYNTER | The Guardian

US private prison firms are targeting Canada for fresh opportunities as pressure builds at home on the troubled multi-billion dollar industry from human rights groups and legal actions, and as more states look to scale back their reliance on them.

Two of the biggest operators in an industry once regarded as recession-proof, Geo Group and Management and Training Corporation (MTC), have been lobbying various government departments in the Canadian capital,

. . . → Read More: CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE WORLD: Private prison companies look to Canada as industry faces lawsuits in US

DeSmogBlog: Dirty Energy Industry Sues EPA Over Clean Air Initiatives

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In a blatant insult to the millions of Americans who would breathe easier under the EPA’s air pollution controls, the dirty energy industry, along with other groups, has sued the EPA to stop regulating toxic industrial air pollution. The Center for American Progress has the story:  

Two essential Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, regulations to protect children, seniors, the infirm, and others from air pollution are under attack from the coal industry and many utilities.

Last year the EPA issued two rules that would reduce smog, acid rain, and airborne toxic chemicals: the Cross-State Air

. . . → Read More: DeSmogBlog: Dirty Energy Industry Sues EPA Over Clean Air Initiatives