About lobbyists and politics…
Published Sunday, October 18, 2015
Last weekend, nobody knew who Dan Gagnier was.
Now, in the final crucial weekend of a months-long federal election campaign, everybody does.
There’s a reason for that.
Gagnier is a politico, an insider, but now he’s best known for being the guy who wounded the reputation of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals at exactly the wrong moment.
The facts aren’t in dispute, even among Liberals (and I’m one, by the way).
Gagnier, while he was co-chairman of the Liberal party’s election campaign, was giving advice to TransCanada Corp. about how to lobby a new government — not coincidentally, a Liberal government.
And he was doing that, it seems, while riding the Liberal campaign bus with Trudeau.
Now Gagnier, rightly, has been thrown under the bus.
But the questions about what he was doing — and who else knew about it — persist.
Gagnier would have had unparalleled access to Trudeau and his senior advisers over the past several months.
Did he lobby any of them without registering as a lobbyist?
It isn’t a crime to lobby. It’s an important part of democracy, in fact.
But if Gagnier was doing it secretly, that’s wrong.
(Ask former Conservative loyalists Rahim Jaffer and Bruce Carson how well that worked out for them.)
I worked on Parliament Hill for a former Liberal leader, among other parliamentarians.
When stories like Gagnier’s would emerge, all of us working in the political trenches would be frustrated and angry.
Yet another unelected person hurting the reputation of the whole team.
Gagnier is likely going to face a raft of investigations in the coming months — the NDP has already written to the commissioner of Canada Elections demanding an investigation — and he should.
To his credit, Trudeau accepted Gagnier’s resignation, and has condemned what his former confidant did.
But reporters keep peppering Trudeau about who knew what, and when they knew it.
Until now, Trudeau has enjoyed a pretty decent reputation for integrity.
He’s not perfect, but he looks better than Stephen Harper and Tom Mulcair.
Trudeau has also turned out to be a solid candidate — and way more ready than all those slick ads would have you believe.
But Dan Gagnier has changed all that.
And we — the voters — are entitled to know who knew what, and when they knew it.
This one, on the final weekend of the campaign, isn’t going to go away.
Old Liberal ghosts, I suspect, will feature prominently as the Conservatives and New Democrats desperately try to stop the Trudeau Liberals’ climb to 24 Sussex.
For them, Dan Gagnier was exactly what was needed.
— Kinsella is Senior Vice President and Principal with Daisy Consulting Group