CFAC/Provost issue far from over

July 17, 2018

CFAC/Provost issue far from over

~ Ottawa, July 16, 2018

In a recent decision by Federal Lobbying Commissioner Nancy Belanger, PolyRemembers advocate Nathalie Provost was cleared of a complaint filed by CCFR VP of Public Relations Tracey Wilson.  Read about it

The story doesn't end there however, Wilson maintains her stance on the topic. "The idea that she signed a document agreeing not to influence or work for legislation while serving on CFAC, then promptly violated it in her group's lobby ask to the Minister, shows she has no respect for the integrity and purpose of the committee" said Wilson from her Ottawa office.

The deciding factor here in this decision seems to boil down to whether or not Provost gets a paycheck from the Quebec anti-gun lobby organization.  While Provost may have been cleared of any violation of the Lobby Act, she has clearly violated the Terms of Reference for CFAC, and the Minister has turned a blind eye to it.

Here's the facts; 

Black’s Law dictionary, Sixth Edition, defines “lobbying” as “All attempts including personal solicitation to induce legislators to vote in a certain way or to introduce legislation. It includes scrutiny of all pending bills which affects one’s interests or the interests of one’s clients, with a view towards influencing the passage or defeat of such legislation.” That definition is consistent with the use of the term in the Lobbying Act (Canada).

In February 2017, Natalie Provost was appointed as vice-chair of the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee (CFAC). In being so appointed, Ms. Provost specifically agreed to the following Conflict of Interest provision in the “Terms of Reference” of CFAC:

“Any member participating in this committee in his or her own personal capacity or as an authorized representative of a specific organization or corporation agrees for the duration of his or her term as a member of this committee not to … Engage in lobbying activities or work as a registered lobbyist on behalf of any entity making submissions or representations to the Government of Canada on issues relating to the mandate of this committee.”

Take careful note of the disjunctive “or” between “lobbying activities” and “work as a registered lobbyist” in the conflict of interest provision of the Terms of Reference of CFAC; there are two prohibited activities, not one.
Notwithstanding this agreement, during her appointment as vice-chair of CFAC, Natalie Provost signed a letter dated November 24, 2017 to the Members of Parliament of the House of Commons, on behalf of Poly Remembers, which included the following excerpts:

Subject: Strengthening the Firearms Act

In this letter we would like to present to you our expectations relating to changes to the Firearms Act, including measures that were in the Liberal Party's election platform, which should be tabled before the end of the year, according to the recent statement by the Minister of Public Safety.

1. Tighten eligibility criteria and strengthen the screening process for people wishing to acquire, renew or keep a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL);
2. Forbid all marketing that encourages multiple registrations with respect to firearms safety training courses;
3. Strengthen the measures related to the sale and transfer of firearms, including the reinstatement of mandatory verification of the validity of a potential buyers licence;
4. Reinstate the full discretion of Chief Provincial Firearms Officers as well as the full authority of the RCMP with regards to establish additional safety conditions associated with the granting of licences and the classification of firearms according to the law, respectively;
5. Reinstate the controls over the sale of non-restricted weapons, including inventory controls and sales ledgers for gun merchants as well as the requirement to notify authorities of private sales;
6. Reinstate transportation permits for restricted weapons so they include the locations in which a specific weapons can be present;
7. Ban assault weapons, which are designed for killing humans, once and for all; and
8. Revise the measures on large-capacity magazines in order to eliminate an important loophole and impose a real limit of 5 rounds for non-restricted weapons and 10 for restricted weapons.
We are convinced that these demands are reasonable and perfectly coherent with a society founded on peace, order and good government. We hope we can count on you to support these measures in order to make the public interest the government's priority rather than the interests of a loud minority of opponents of gun control.

Heidi Rathjen, B.lng., Dr.h.c., LLD, C.S .M

Nathalie Provost. B.lng. MB
Member and spokesperson”
(The “Firearms Act Lobbying Request Letter”)

Receipt of the Firearms Act Lobbying Request Letter was confirmed on December 12, 2017 by Global Affairs Canada on behalf of Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, with the advice that it was forwarded to Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for his consideration. Presumably it was also received by all of the other Members of Parliament to whom it was addressed.

Unquestionably, this constituted an attempt to induce legislators to vote in a certain way or to introduce legislation with a view towards influencing the passage or defeat of such legislation. Obviously Ms. Provost was lobbying the government when she signed this letter.

Unquestionably, Ms. Provost blatantly disregarded her agreement to abide by the Conflict of Interest elements in the Terms of Reference governing her appointment to CFAC.

The only remaining question is this: what, if anything, is the Liberal government going to do about this.

I think we all know the answer to that.

We also know Wilson won't let them sweep this one under the rug. She intends to follow through with the next steps in this issue which include holding the Minister accountable for the members whom he appoints to his committee and expecting him to act appropriately when they violate their service agreements. Bill C-71 reeks of corruption and the Senate should send it back to the House of Commons pending an independent investigation into Nathalie's insider influence. The Minister should also start looking for a more suitable candidate to vice-chair the committee, perhaps one that will respect the integrity of the work and honour the terms of service.

This issue is far from over …

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