Musings —10.22.2012 08:20 AM—
Gerry Nicholls is formerly a “senior officer” with the far-right lobby group, the National Citizens Coalition. Last week, I wrote a column that mentioned in passing Stephen Harper’s time heading the NCC. Nicholls objected to what I wrote, and apparently sent a letter to the Sun. Here is what he wrote, in part:
When I saw Nicholls’ letter on his web site, I commneted, and asked him a question he has yet to answer. I asked him if Harper had done anything, during his time at the NCC, that falls within the definition of lobbying under the relevant legislation:
“(a) communicate with a public office holder in respect of
(i) the development of any legislative proposal by the Government of Canada or by a member of the Senate or the House of Commons,
(ii) the introduction of any Bill or resolution in either House of Parliament or the passage, defeat or amendment of any Bill or resolution that is before either House of Parliament,
(iii) the making or amendment of any regulation as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Statutory Instruments Act
(iv) the development or amendment of any policy or program of the Government of Canada,
(v) the awarding of any grant, contribution or other financial benefit by or on behalf of Her Majesty in right of Canada, or
(vi) the awarding of any contract by or on behalf of Her Majesty in right of Canada; or
(b) arrange a meeting between a public office holder and any other person.”
As you can see, the definition of lobbying under the Act is quite broad. Grassroots lobbying – which is what Nicholls has now admitted Harper did – is a communication technique that encourages individual members of the public (or organizations) to communicate directly with public office holders, in an attempt to influence government decisions. This type of lobbying usually relies on media or advertising and results in mass letter writing and fax campaigns, telephone calls to public office holders, and public demonstrations, and so on.
That’s precisely what Harper’s NCC did, according to one of Harper’s own senior officers: grassroots lobbying.
So, again, the question: did Harper do any unregistered lobbying for the NCC? Because unregistered lobbying is contrary to the law.
The answer, if Nicholls is to be believed, is yes. That’s news, perhaps, so I plan to write about this in a future Sun column. In the meantime, however, Gerry Nicholls might want to think before he rushes to his typewriter.