Campaign #9 - Conflict of Interest and Ethics Violations

In accepting the position of Vice Chair of the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee, Ms Provost signed terms of reference agreeing not to lobby government in areas related to firearms. Ten months later, in her capacity as a spokesperson for PolySeSouvient, she sent a detailed letter to Members of Parliament and Public Safety Canada asking for specific gun control measures to be legislated. Four months after that the Minister of Public Safety introduced bill C-71 in the House of Commons, a bill that contains five of PolySeSouvient's requests and uses passages from the letter as justification. Campaign 9 is addressed to the Ethics Commissioner and the Lobbying Commissioner as well members of the media. It aims to expose this conflict of interest and ethical violations.

 
     
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Campaign #9 Email

Dear Commissioner:

I am writing to bring to your attention what I believe to be a serious conflict of interest and ethics violation of an appointed member of the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee. The member is Vice Chair Nathalie Provost, current spokesperson and former lobbyist for PolySeSouvient.

The committee's terms of reference regarding conflict of interest clearly states members agree 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." ATIP file number A-2017-00358/AK (reference 1) shows the CFAC terms of reference with Ms Provost accepting the mandate on January 26th 2017.

The conflict of interest comes 10 months later when PolySeSouvient sent a letter to Members of Parliament and Public Safety Canada. This letter, ATIP file number A-2017-00356/SL (reference 2), asks the government to enact eight very specific measures with regards to firearms and gun control legislation. Heidi Rathjen as PolySeSouvient "Coordinator" and Nathalie Provost as PolySeSouvient "Member and spokesperson" signed it.

Four months after the PolySeSouvient letter from Ms Provost was received by Public Safety Canada, the Hon. Ralph Goodale introduced bill C-71 in the House of Commons. Five of the requests from Ms Rathjen and Ms Provost make up the bulk of C-71. One could make an argument that the 12.9 through 12.14 sections of C-71 were a concession to a sixth request from Ms Rathjen and Ms Provost to "ban assault weapons". Reasons given by the Minister for C-71 are many of the same reasons that appear in the PolySeSouvient letter, some repeated word for word.

The committee conflict of interest terms of reference were clearly violated. A bill affecting millions of Canadians appears to have been created as a result of lobbying efforts by a single member of CFAC. What are the ethical implications considering the Minister of Public Safety both appointed that member to CFAC as well as sponsored and introduced the bill? This matter needs your review and appropriate action taken. The public deserves to know if there is a conflict of interest on CFAC and whether any ethical violations occurred in the creation and tabling of bill C-71.

Yours sincerely,

Refs: (1) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pvMFjgrgodpQr3-LPBVmjfoGvFqpoU4m/view
(2) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YWewue4zl6a1IiILTZF__8BLIaEneDTd/view

Cc: The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Office of the Prime Minister of Canada
Hon. Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety
Nancy Bélanger, Commissioner of Lobbying
Hon. John C. Major, C.C., Q.C., Chair of the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee
Pierre Paul-Hus, M.P., House of Commons
Bob Zimmer, M.P., House of Commons
Cheryl Gallant, M.P., House of Commons


List of Recipients' Email Addresses

justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca, ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca, QuestionsLobbying@ocl-cal.gc.ca, majorj@bennettjones.com, Pierre.Paul-Hus@parl.gc.ca, Bob.Zimmer@parl.gc.ca, cheryl.gallant@parl.gc.ca alerts@globalnews.ca, news@ctv.ca, investigate@cbc.ca, JMacDonald@postmedia.com, rfife@globeandmail.com