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Former Tory minister on the hot seat over Enbridge lobbying gig – Inside Politics

Former Tory minister on the hot seat over Enbridge lobbying gig – Inside Politics.

Former Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl is facing questions over a possible conflict of interest after the Vancouver Observer revealed that he’s been hired by Enbridge to help them sell the provincial BC government on the merits of the Northern Gateway pipeline project.

On Monday, ForestEthics Advocacy issued a statement calling on Strahl to step down from his current gig as chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the five-person board charged with keeping an eye on Canada’s top secret spy agency.

“In late 2013 it emerged that the Harper government had used CSIS and the RCMP to spy on critics of oil pipeline projects, including the Sierra Club, the Council of Canadians and Idle No More,” the release noted. .

“ForestEthics Advocacy and its supporters were among those Canadians targeted for surveillance. Given these events, and Strahl’s close ties to both his former colleagues in Ottawa and Canada’s spy agency, his registration to lobby for Enbridge is–at best–a conflict of interest. ”

Later that day, New Democrat natural resources critic and BC MP Nathan Cullen put out a release claiming that Strahl had been “caught” lobbying for the company.

Cullen acknowledges that, as a former minister, Strahl is currently barred from lobbying the federal government under the cooling-off provisions put in place by the Conservatives in 2006, but warns that “vague guidelines” could allow him to “skirt the rules and lobby the province. even on a federal pipeline issue.”

But under current federal ethics rules, the SIRC chairmanship is considered a part-time appointment, which exempts Strahl from many of the specific restrictions imposed by the Conflict of Interest Act.

Read the full list of do’s and don’ts for part-time public office holders here.

Unlike a full-time reporting public office holder, Strahl is no longer obliged to disclose his outside activities to the ethics commissioner, or provide the same sort of public declaration of assets, liabilities and other income that he had to file during his tenure in cabinet.

He is, however, still subject to the five-year ban on lobbying the federal government, as well as the general provisions of the Conflict of Interest Act that apply to all public office holders, which forbid him from using his current position, or information that isn’t available to the general public, to influence any decision that could further private interests.

That doesn’t mean he can’t work for Enbridge — or, indeed, lobby the province on its behalf. He just can’t exploit inside information, or his part-time gig at SIRC, while doing so.

Still, given the political sensitivities surrounding both the pipeline file and the conduct of Canada’s domestic and foreign intelligence agencies, it seems unlikely that the controversy over his dual roles will be put to rest simply by pointing out that he’s following the rules.

This was, after all, the government that came to power vowing to block the so-called ‘revolving door’ between politics and private sector advocacy.

Given that, it’s fair to ask whether it makes sense to treat a highly sensitive post like the SIRC chairmanship as just another part-time job.

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Canada Caving On Controversial Issues?

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Canada Caving On Controversial Issues?.

The federal government is staying quiet on reports it has caved to U.S. demands on intellectual property and copyright issues in a new Pacific trade deal currently under negotiation, saying only that talks are ongoing.

Citing a report from the Washington Trade Daily, the Council of Canadians saysCanada has backed off its resistance to “outrageous” new intellectual property rights the U.S. wants to see included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

WikiLeaks, which released a draft copy of the IP chapter of the deal last month, described it as having “far-reaching implications for individual rights and civil liberties.”

Critics of the deal say if the U.S. gets its way, the result could be the criminalization of small-scale copyright infringement and households being disconnected from the internet under laws that punish unauthorized downloading. Internet providers would be forced to do more monitoring of their subscribers, and it would be easier for governments to remove websites, critics say.

Additionally, proposed extensions to drug patents and copyright terms would mean more expensive drugs and other products, critics say.

Australia, New Zealand and Canada, among others, dropped their objections to the high-standard disciplines in intellectual property and came on board by agreeing to the modified text,” the Council of Canadians quoted the Trade Daily as saying.

“Effectively, there is consensus on the intellectual property dossier except for one developing country.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade did not address the claims directly, but told HuffPost Canada that “the IP chapter is still under negotiation and Canada continues to advance its interests at the negotiating table.”

Canada “is committed to ensuring that its intellectual property regime balances the interests of both rightholders and users,” a DFAIT spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Documents released by WikiLeaks last month showed Canada had been in the majority of negotiating countries in resisting the IP provisions the U.S. wants. It’s unclear whether Canada’s reported change of stance, along with the shift by other countries, now gives the U.S. the muscle to make the IP provisions part of the final agreement. Negotiations continue under a veil of secrecy, with the latest round wrapping up in Singapore last week.

Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew called on the federal government to release the proposed text of the TPP to the public.

“This is a transparent effort to find more profits for U.S.-based pharmaceutical companies by undermining other countries’ efforts to keep health costs down,” he said.

“People have a right to see what other ridiculous trade-offs are happening in the TPP negotiations. The Harper government, and all TPP countries, owe it to everyone to make the full text public now.”

Along with Canada and the U.S., the countries negotiating the TPP are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

A trade area among those countries would have a population of nearly 800 million and would represent more than 38 per cent of the world economy.

Nestlé gives in on water drawing conditions – Politics – CBC News

Nestlé gives in on water drawing conditions – Politics – CBC News. (FULL ARTICLE)

Nestlé Waters Canada is backing down from a fight with environmental groups and accepting drought restrictions on its permit to take water from its well in Hillsburgh, Ont.

Wellington Water Watchers and the Council of Canadians, bothrepresented by Ecojustice, announced today that Nestlé is withdrawing its appeal to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal. The appeal centred on conditions the Ontario Ministry of the Environment put on the company’s renewed permit to take water.

“It’s a major win. Nestlé’s decision to back down is huge. For the first time in Ontario’s history, a company must adhere to mandatory restrictions on the water it pumps out of the ground during drought conditions,” said Ecojustice lawyer Will Amos.

Nestlé confirmed that it sent a letter to the tribunal asking that it not go ahead with the appeal. This means that the company will have to abide by the mandatory drought restrictions in its permit to take water.

Conditions attached to permit…

 

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