Liberal race will draw democracy complaints

An Ottawa-based government-watchdog group, Democracy Watch, plans to file ethics complaints with the federal registrar of lobbyists concerning various government-relations consultants working in top-level positions on federal Liberal leadership campaigns.

According to Democracy Watch coordinator Duff Conacher, his group will complain that the lobbyists have violated section 8 of the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct, which states: “Lobbyists shall not place public office holders in a conflict of interest by proposing or undertaking any action that would constitute an improper influence on a public office holder.”

Vancouver lobbyist Mark Marissen, husband of former B.C. deputy premier Christy Clark, is working on the campaign of Stéphane Dion. Michael Robinson, a well-known lobbyist and former chair of Paul Martin’s transition team, is backing Bob Rae.

Michael Nelson, the registrar of lobbyists, recently dismissed a Democracy Watch complaint regarding one filed in 2000 under the same section. Democracy Watch objected to lobbyist Barry Campbell arranging a fundraising event for then–cabinet minister Jim Peterson, who oversaw financial institutions.