15 September 2011

@cbcnl using Nalcor lobbyist as election commentator #nlpoli #cdnpoli


CBC Newfoundland and Labrador will be using registered Nalcor lobbyist Tim Powers as an election commentator but Powers will apparently be commenting as part of a group of journalists and a political scientist, not as an identified partisan or lobbyist.

CBC’s David Cochrane will host the new TV program  - On Point – that will air Sunday afternoons at 1:00 PM on the island during the provincial election. Cochrane described the show in an interview with St. John’s Morning Show host Anthony Germain on Tuesday. 

Cochrane included Powers as part of a group comprising political scientist Amanda Bittner, Telegram editor Russell Wangersky and  Germain. The show will also feature a partisan panel, made up of representatives of the three provincial political parties. Each Sunday show will also have a feature interview.

Great concept, great panel - including Powers  - except for one enormous problem:  Powers is in a blatant and undeniable conflict of interest.  He’s a paid lobbyist for Nalcor.  Work for Nalcor, you work – in effect for the provincial government.   That means that the object of Powers’ lobbying work will play a central role in this campaign.

Blind people could see the ethical problems the CBC has created journalistically by including Powers on a panel discussing the provincial election.  

Powers has been a registered lobbyist for Nalcor on the Lower Churchill project since at least 2007.  According to the lobbyist commissioner’s office, Powers’ registration with the federal lobbyist registry expired in March 2011.  He reactivated the registration in June 2011.


Powers has an impressive resume.  A former political aide to John Crosbie, Powers holds degrees from four universities including the London School of Economics and Harvard University.  He is well known as a media commentator on political issues.

But that doesn’t trump his obvious conflict of interest.  The guy can’t even pretend to offer unbiased commentary in an election in which his client and his client’s sole shareholder are directly involved.

For some reason, Powers’ role lobbying on behalf of Nalcor in Ottawa is seldom mentioned publicly in his commentaries even when he speaks about his client’s business. 

In the past, Powers has written about and commented on Nalcor issues on his blog at the Globe and Mail yet neither he nor the Globe  disclosed his status as a registered lobbyist for the provincial Crown corporation in connection with the pieces.

Some people touted Powers as a potential successor to Danny Williams, but that was before the provincial Conservative Party sorted out its backroom deal for Kathy Dunderdale.  He’s also commented about provincial politics, generally.  In June 2011, Powers commented on the role of political myth in Newfoundland and Labrador.

- srbp -