11 September 2013

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.

What’s more, none of the companies trying to get a contract at Muskrat Falls have registered as lobbyists either, even though the lobbyist registration makes it clear that they should.

No surprise here.  Since 2004, friends of the provincial Conservatives can lobby all they want and never have to report their activities publicly despite what the law says. Maybe they have relied on the loop-holes the Conservatives built-in to their law, like the one that lets a minimum number of hours to trigger the legal  reporting requirement. Maybe they have just noticed that there are no penalties for breaking the law.

No matter how you slice it, the totally useless lobbyist registration act just counts as another broken political promise.  Back in 2003, the Conservatives said they would create a registry “so the public will know who is lobbying and who is being lobbied.”  And people who broke the law?  There supposed to be “significant penalties for those who violate these provisions.”  No penalties at all would be the opposite of “significant.”