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HomeMiscellanyHorgan’s rise to power turns another ’90s NDP minister into a lobbyist

Horgan’s rise to power turns another ’90s NDP minister into a lobbyist

Bob Mackin 

Sue Hammell is the third ex-NDP cabinet minister to register as a lobbyist in less than two months. 

From the Composite Public Affairs website.

The retired Surrey-Green Timbers MLA is representing the non-profit consultancy First Nations Financial Management Board. The only target contact on her Oct. 26 registration is Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser. 

“Their mission is to provide the tools and guidance that will help First Nations communities build their confidence and capacity around financial management and reporting,” said Hammell, who held three cabinet posts between 1995 and 2001. “They’re stationed in B.C., but they work across the country. I hope we manage to get a lot of people to know what great work this group does.” 

In September, former NDP tourism and parks minister Ian Waddell registered to lobby Attorney General David Eby for the B.C. Wine Institute and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth for the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries. 

In mid-October, former environment minister Moe Sihota registered to lobby energy minister Michelle Mungall and finance minister Carole James for Woodfibre LNG.

Hammell is the first to go from the opposition benches last spring to a lobbyist this fall, a move which remains legal in B.C. The Eby-tabled lobbying reform bill includes a two-year, post-employment ban for cabinet ministers, their aides and senior bureaucrats. There is no restriction for ex-MLAs. 

“If you’ve been in government and the Legislature for 22 years, you get to know a lot of people inside and outside government,” Hammell told theBreaker. “But that doesn’t mean that I know more than people who have been working either supporting businesses or working with government.”

Hammell is executive vice-president of Surrey-based Composite Public Affairs, which was formed before the Greens joined the John Horgan-led NDP to topple the BC Liberal government in a confidence vote in late June. One of the Composite founders, Lori Winstanley, left to become Mungall’s top aide in July. She now works under Farnworth.

Horgan, flanked by Woodfibre LNG lobbyist Sihota (left) and ex-Premier Dan Miller, of the pro-industry PR campaign ResourceWorks (Facebook)

Fraser and Mungall were supposed to appear at Composite’s Hammell-promoted, Oct. 27 Vancouver Convention Centre event. They were both forced to cancel after theBreaker exposed the strange bedfellows behind the $295-a-ticket conference boosting the Horgan government

It was Horgan’s chief of staff, Geoff Meggs, who kiboshed the scheduled keynote speeches, according to an Aug. 22 memo obtained under freedom of information by theBreaker

“It has come to our attention that a new public affairs company is seeking to recruit ministers as speakers at a private, ticketed event intended to give attendees special insights into the policies of the government,” Meggs wrote. “It is not appropriate for ministers to attend such an event.

“Speaking on public policy matters may be appropriate at an event called for a broader purpose — for example a convention of health care providers or a business organization — if the ticket price relates to the conference objectives of the organization, rather than access to decision-makers. Normally, such events are open to the media as well. 

“It is not appropriate at an event which may be construed as privileged access in a setting where the subject matter relates entirely to government relations or the sponsoring organization is focused primarily or exclusively on government relations.”

Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation figures show Hammell’s 22 years as an MLA are worth an $87,420 annual pension. 

While Hammell said her priority is caring for her ill husband, John Pollard, she hopes to take on more lobbying clients “whose mission aligns” with her values. She said she doesn’t discuss Composite business with her daughter, Horgan’s director of communications, Sage Aaron.

“I have no intentions of ever putting her in a place where she has to defend my behaviour,” Hammell said. “It’s just not going to happen.”

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OOP-2017-72920 by BobMackin on Scribd