Report on Investigation — The Lobbying Activities of Michael McSweeney (Page 6 of 8)


Report of the Investigations Directorate

The Investigations Directorate (the Directorate) examined whether Mr. McSweeney was in breach of Rule 8 when he participated in the organization of the September 24, 2009 fundraising event for the Halton Conservative Association (HCA). The Directorate's Report analyzed the degree to which Mr. McSweeney advanced the private interest of Minister Raitt.

The fundraising event was organized by the HCA to raise money for Minister Raitt's next election campaign. The previous election campaign had cost the HCA approximately $106,000. The Directorate concluded that the efforts of the HCA and various volunteers to raise sufficient funds to run a campaign for re-election are actions which advance the private interest of Minister Raitt. Those actions could potentially create a tension between her private interest and her duty to serve the public interest.

Michael McSweeney became involved in the fundraiser at the request of his brother, Colin McSweeney, who worked in Minister Raitt's office, and was responsible for liaison with the HCA. He was involved in a teleconference to plan the fundraiser, helped to determine the location of the event and participated in the sale of tickets. He agreed to become the contact point for responses to invitations sent to various supporters of Minister Raitt's bid for re-election.

Mr. McSweeney also sold tickets and sent 20 invitations to friends and acquaintances. He sold a total of seven tickets, three of them to people in the cement industry, one to himself and the remainder to acquaintances. Those tickets were sold for a minimum donation of $250, and the HCA expected to make a net profit of $205.36 per ticket. Mr. McSweeney collected approximately $1,200 of the estimated $8,300 raised at the event.

The Directorate concluded that Mr. McSweeney's involvement in the fundraising event advanced the private interest of Minister Raitt to a moderate degree. These conclusions were based upon an analysis of the information obtained by the Directorate and the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal in Democracy Watch v. Campbell et al. The framework for analysis that was developed by my Office has been set out in my Guidance and the Clarifications about political activities in the context of Rule 8 that I issued in August 201010.

The Directorate examined the degree to which Mr. McSweeney interacted with Minister Raitt as a consequence of his employment as a lobbyist and the degree to which the subject matter of his lobbying activities fell within the purview of the Minister.

Minister Raitt was first elected to the House of Commons on October 14, 2008. She was appointed as Minister of Natural Resources on October 30, 2008 and remained in that portfolio until January 19, 2010. At the time of the events under examination, she was a member of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Growth and Long-term Prosperity and the Cabinet Committee on Environment and Energy Security.

At the time that he participated in the organization of the fundraiser, Mr. McSweeney was a registered lobbyist employed as the Vice President, Industry Affairs, at the Cement Association of Canada. The CAC is registered to lobby 25 federal departments, agencies or organizations, including Natural Resources Canada.

The CAC is registered to lobby federal public office holders in respect of various subjects, including: international trade; natural resources; fisheries; agriculture; transport; infrastructure; regional development; environment; and, energy. Minister Raitt, as the Minister of Natural Resources and as a member of the two Cabinet Committees set out above, could have been involved in the consideration of any of those subjects in her capacity as Minister or as a member of one of those Cabinet committees.

On March 3, 2009 and on September 24, 2009, Mr. McSweeney communicated directly with Minister Raitt on behalf of the CAC and in respect of registrable subjects. The CAC declared both communications in monthly communication returns filed in the Registry of Lobbyists. The subject matters of energy and environment were described in the contents of the returns.

The Directorate determined that Mr. McSweeney's discussions with the Minister related to the efforts of CAC to use renewable forms of energy in anticipation of a potential cap and trade emission trading system, as well as the eligibility of the cement industry for clean air program funding. According to Mr. McSweeney, Minister Raitt recommended to him that the CAC submit an application for the Clean Energy fund, and indicated her willingness to support it. The CAC submitted an application, but did not receive any funding.

In view of the above, the Directorate concluded that Mr. McSweeney interacted with Minister Raitt to a high degree as a consequence of his employment as a lobbyist for the Cement Association of Canada and that the subject matter of his lobbying efforts fell within the purview of the Minister.

The report of the Investigations Directorate contained the following conclusions. Mr. McSweeney participated in the organization of a fundraising event for the HCA to raise money for Minister Raitt's re-election campaign. As a consequence, his actions advanced her private interest to a moderate degree. In addition, he interacted with the Minister to a high degree as a consequence of employment as a lobbyist with the CAC. He was registered to lobby in respect of subjects within the Minister's purview and, on two occasions, communicated directly with the Minister. The intersection of the above-mentioned activities placed the Minister in an apparent conflict of interest, and as a consequence, Mr. McSweeney's actions breached Rule 8 of the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct.

The report of the Investigations Directorate containing those conclusions was provided to Mr. McSweeney for his comments.

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