Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Meet Your New Minister of Defence

Gordon O'Connor has come under some scrutiny for his lobbying work in the military industry. Harper has been quick to defend his new Minister:
"having worked in an industry in the past does constitute a conflict of interest"

...unless you're a low level assistant to the western desk, that is. It certainly is odd that Harper would appoint a former lobbyist to Cabinet, when he's trying to bring in new legislation banning government workers from lobbying for five years after they leave office.

Luckily, O'Connor has a better explanation:
"Years ago, I went and represented companies to find out what was involved in projects to advise them how to approach projects to advise them how to approach projects, how to bid, how to produce their documents, that sort of stuff,"

If Harper has shown Paul Martin ethics, O'Connor is showing Paul Martin hyperbole. "Years ago" translates to February 23rd, 2004.

Yes, it's nice to have a Minister of Defence with military experience, but the optics on this one certainly aren't ideal.

9 Comments:

  • Provided a person like O'Conner deregiters as a lobbyist and places any beneficial shares of (associated) lobbying interests into trust ... as all ministers are required to do ... it's not a problem.

    It's the OTHER way around ... going into private life afterwards, being a lobbyist, and benefitting from previous knowledge and contacts ... that is the problem.

    With the Accountability Act change to 5 years, that should put paid to that problem.

    So, as usual, it's an inference that has no merit. Otherwise, nobody with experience in the field would be eligible to be a Minister, and we'd have to rely on raw greenies.

    Both Bart and the media seem to have forgotten to engage brains before writing, these days.

    By Anonymous Erik Sorenson, at 1:18 PM  

  • Like I said, it's mostly about optics. I don't have a huge problem with it, although I question how smart a move this is politically for the reasons I commented on.

    But why does it only go in one direction? Surely "benefiting from previous knowledge and contacts" is a problem in both directions. And the 5 year lobby period is going to scare off a lot of smart people from entering government.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:28 PM  

  • Well, actually,it is a bit of a problem. Some experience is generally a good idea, but it gets a bit difficult with depts that have large procurement budgets.

    The Minister of defence will have significant input into who gets what Defence contract. Some his former clients are bidding on those contracts.

    That's not to say he shouldn't be MND. He should recuse himself. And he's plainly said he won't. That's a problem.

    But I think what will be more amusing is Brig. Gen O'Connor (ret'd) providing direction to the CDS.

    A "Baby-General" (as they call them) instructing a Chief of the Defence Staff. I'd love to be a fly on the wall after that briefing.

    By Blogger A Canadian Publius, at 1:29 PM  

  • t's the OTHER way around ... going into private life afterwards, being a lobbyist, and benefitting from previous knowledge and contacts ... that is the problem.

    Erik, from the CPC platform, 2006 edition:

    Under the Liberals, lobbying government – often by friends and associates of Paul Martin and other Liberal ministers – has become a multi-million dollar industry. Senior Liberals move freely back and forth between elected and non-elected government posts and the world of lobbying.

    Emphasis mine. Back and forth. As in both ways. The Cons had a problem with it two weeks ago.

    By Blogger A BCer in Toronto, at 1:57 PM  

  • The problem with going from lobbyist to cabinet minister is your loyalty to former clients and friends. The Accountability Act also only removes the ability to act as a lobbyist, but look at what happens in the US all the time: you have industry or political people or lobbyists going into government, shilling for their contacts in the outside world and then, after a year or so, leaving government for the private sector with a big whopping salary at one of those contacts. Not as a lobbyist, but as with Cheney for example on the Board or other appointment as a reward for good loyalty during government. So there very much is a danger. In this case especially so when O'Connor has been criticized before for pitching inferior equipment on behalf of friends and clients. We'll see how he does.

    Having said that, I don't think we should cut off industry expertise from entering government and I think 5 years afterward is way too long. We already have too many lawyers and career politicians running the place (this from a lawyer), and not enough expertise from industry. It's a tough balance that is not properly regulated currently nor will it be under the FAA.

    Ted
    Cerberus

    By Blogger Cerberus, at 2:16 PM  

  • This all sounding like old times with the Mulroney boys - all the big money cabinet posts have gone to Quebec, defense looks like its setting up to be a cash cow for SOMEBODY, gee these guys haven't been in office for a month and rape and pillage seems to be their motto. I wonder if the Liberal Party is still paying for Emerson's Blackberry. Maybe they should grab the records before he erases them. Do you think he still has the keys to the riding office? Wow! Isn't this fun? I wonder if there are any emails from, oh say ...Conservatives f rom before election day?

    By Blogger scanner, at 2:49 PM  

  • Mr. Sorenson, you sure are doing your utmost to defend Mulroney.. er.. Harper. I suppose that because the rest of your Blogging Tory compatriots arent as willing to drink Tory Kool-Aid and insist anything Harper does is God's gift to humanity, and you feel you need to pick up the slack.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 3:00 PM  

  • This is has got to be the shortest honeymoon ever. Harper never even got a chance to take off the wedding dress.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:15 PM  

  • Mr. Tribe: Please note that my site is not affiliated with, nor does it carry the banners of, the Blogging Tories, or any other likewise group, including your group of "Progressive Bloggers". I remain independent for a purpose ... to have an independent view.

    Secondly, as an indiviual who has been double-dipped by the Liberals and their "promises" for the past 12 years, I think it's a bit rich for you to take a high and mighty posture on this one, on behalf of your Liberal brethern. Suck it in and get over the election result, as the rest of humanity has.

    Thirdly, my post stated the obvious. Notwithstanding the "both ways" platform quotation, which was reflective of the Liberal regime absent any prohibitions, it's really only the "after leaving office" dimension that a Minister (or ex-Minister) is able to profit from. Not while in office and, since the intention is to put a prohibition of 5 years on after-leaving lobbying, that's my point.

    Lastly, nowhere in my post do I endorse the Minister's appointment, or act as an apologist for Mulroney or Harper. Nor would I act as an apologist for Martin or Dingwall, Eggleton et al. I merely explain the effect of the revisions to the Lobbyist's Act to refute postulated concerns with the appointment of the Minister of Veterans Affairs.

    Finally, I note that you have not offered to refute my post, only to slag it as expected. Style, or lack therof, describes the man, doesn't it?

    But, yes, I do agree with you that Harper is God's gift to humanity. For the moment. Still. Way better than the Liberal crooks, whom you failed to take to task. Thanks for your endorsement.

    By Anonymous Erik Sorenson, at 5:01 PM  

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