The Official Opposition says it won’t stand by any longer while this Liberal government plays fast and loose with rules around lobbying in Nova Scotia.
Today in the Legislature, PC House Leader Chris d’Entremont introduced amendments to the Lobbyist Registration Act that would toughen rules on lobbying in Nova Scotia. The Conflict of Interest Commissioner, an Officer of the Legislature, would have the authority to investigate complaints and follow through.
“This government has operated on closed-door, secret meetings for far too long,” says d’Entremont. “People who can influence the Government decisions and spending should follow real rules. Nova Scotians deserve a government that is open and transparent, not an insiders club.”
Changes would require Members of the House of Assembly to avoid being placed in a conflict of interest because of lobbying, report a conflict or alleged conflict to the Commissioner, and prohibit consulting lobbyists from providing advice to a public office holder. It would also give the Conflict of Interest Commissioner the power to conduct investigations and impose penalties where non-compliance is found.
These much- needed amendments come after former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien visited Nova Scotia in March of last year as an international advisor to Sydney Harbour Investment Partners. A complaint was filed suggesting Chrétien was lobbying for the Sydney container port project. Due to the limited enforcement power of the current Registrar under the Minister for Service Nova Scotia, no formal action could be taken. The Registrar could not compel M. Chrétien in any way to cooperate.
d’Entremont says amendments like this will make this Liberal government operate with more transparency and honesty.
“This Liberal government has repeatedly lost the trust of Nova Scotians,” says d’Entremont. “We need the law to have teeth so we can end their slap-on-the-wrist attitude toward rule breaking.”
The bill can be found on the Nova Scotia Legislature website.