Spouse of PM’s top aide had several contacts with officials on behalf of employer, but no lobbying rules broken: Commissioner

The Federal Lobbying Commissioner’s investigation reveals that Rob Silver, husband of the prime minister’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, held several talks with senior government officials seeking policy changes on behalf of his employer, but concluded that Mr. did not violate federal lobbying laws. .

Commissioner Nancy Belanger said the situation was an example of an issue that her office has been flagging for years. He said Parliament should update the Lobbying Act so that all lobbying contacts are disclosed to the public, instead of the current system where disclosure only happens after the activity threshold is reached.

The commissioner’s current interpretation of the Act is that public disclosure is required only if individuals spend 20 percent or more of their time lobbying. Ms Belanger said the rule should be abolished.

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“This limit allows a substantial amount of in-house lobbying activity to go unreported,” Ms Belanger said in her report. “in my point of view, [eliminating the threshold] Transparency will be increased by requiring a greater proportion of paid lobbying activities to be reported in the lobbyists’ registry.”

Lobbyists who are employees of a company are referred to as in-house lobbyists, in contrast to consultant lobbyists who provide their services to clients on a contract basis.

The report describes Mr Silver’s many interactions with officials over the past year, including with Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino; Sarah Goodman, a senior adviser in the Prime Minister’s Office; Former finance minister Bill Morneau’s top political aide and CMHC and Bank of Canada official.

Mr. Silver joined MCAP Commercial LP, a mortgage finance company, as Senior Vice President of Strategy, Risk and Policy from mid-January last year. The report said that, prior to starting his new position, Mr Silver wrote through legal counsel to the lobbying commissioner’s office to confirm his understanding of the restrictions he would face as Ms Telford’s spouse. I will face

The letter noted that Ms Telford created a conflict of interest screen that directed her colleagues to ensure that she would not engage directly in matters relating to the MCAP or mortgage-related policy decisions that could potentially affect the MCAP. will affect.

The lobbying commissioner responded, reaffirming Mr Silver’s understanding that he should not lobby the Prime Minister or the Prime Minister’s Office “in light of his relationship with Ms Telford”.

In an email to The Granthshala, the commissioner’s office said its advice to Mr Silver about not lobbying the PMO would only apply to individuals who are required to register, subject to the 20 per cent limit that Mr Silver’s activity is. did not fulfill.

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As part of the investigation, the commissioner received copies of emails as well as several sworn statements from political staff who had interacted with Mr Silver over the past year. The report said Mr Silver sent suggestions for legislative changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) via direct message on Twitter to Tyler Meredith, Mr Morneau’s senior policy adviser, who did a similar job under Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. The role continued. The report said Mr Meredith deleted his Twitter correspondence with Mr Silver in the spring of 2020 “as he regularly does for temporary communications on his personal social media accounts.”

The report shows that Ms Silver sent an email to Meredith in May expressing displeasure over the government’s final position on CEWS eligibility.

“I’m really upset about the actual decision – the arguments you gave me make less sense than I think – but even more frustrated about the process. Life goes on. Be okay,” Mr. Silver wrote.

The report said the commissioner’s office began its investigation on 10 August, based on a Granthshala and Mail report, three days earlier that Mr Silver had in June with a communications officer for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation on the subject of Canada. had participated in the meeting. Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program for small businesses affected by COVID-19. The Granthshala reported that MCAP had signed a $56 million contract to administer the CECRA program on behalf of CMHC, and the value of the contract increased to $84 million after the July extension.

According to the commissioner’s report, Mr Silver’s access to government officials focused on two separate issues: the CECRA program and a concern that most MCAP employees did not qualify for federal wage subsidies because of one of its major investors, CAS. De Depot et Placement du Québec, is a tax exempt pension fund.

In addition to discussing CECRA with Ms. Goodman in the PMO, the report said Mr. Silver also discussed wage subsidies with Michael McNair in May 2020. At the time, Mr McNair was a former senior PMO adviser providing volunteer support to the government. He again joined the PMO as an employee from June to September.

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The commissioner’s report said the elimination of the 20 per cent disclosure limit would also make the process simpler for organizations lobbying the government.

Find out what’s happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary, handpicked by Granthshala editors (clients only). .


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