Why “lobbying” is a dangerous term

06May10

Just so there’s a place where this still exists on the Internet, this is what was erased from Liberal MP Derek Lee’s biography at the Sun & Partners website:

Mr. Lee’s valuable contributions to our clients include acting for foreign and offshore organizations in obtaining operating licenses, securing regulatory and governmental approvals for mergers and acquisitions, reviewing policies and conduct of Canadian Security Intelligence Services, advising government bodies on international issues regarding cross border tax collection, antidumping issues, and lobbying government on policy issues as well as facilitating inter-governmental relationships.

How is this significant? I don’t know. But at the very least, the last few weeks in Ottawa have proven that you have to be almost obsessively careful about how you use the word that’s bolded in the quotation above. Even using that word informally seems to be dangerous.

By way of background, here is a CP report on Conservative claims of inappropriate behaviour on the part of Lee:

Liberal MP Derek Lee faces accusations that he’s been illegally lobbying the government on behalf of foreign companies.

The bombshell dropped by Transport Minister John Baird has turned the tables on Liberal efforts to tar the government with unethical conduct.

They’ve been roasting the Harper government for weeks over allegations that former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer illegally lobbied up to seven different government departments and agencies.

They’re now scrambling to explain why one of their own sitting MPs is promoted as a lobbyist on a Toronto law firm’s website.

Sun and Partners touts Lee — the firm’s legal counsel since 2007 — as someone who works on behalf of foreign and offshore organizations lobbying the government and helping secure government approval for mergers and acquisitions.

Lee is not registered as a lobbyist.

I don’t know how any MP could claim that they don’t actively lobby government. Isn’t that why some — maybe not all, but some — people elect them to office? So that they can push for funding for important projects and groups in their ridings?

Oh, it’s the top story on CBC’s Power and Politics. We’ll see who says what about this.

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