Report on Investigation — The Lobbying Activities of Keith Beardsley (page 5 of 9)


History of the Case Prior to the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct Investigation

On November 20, 2009, the Director of Operations at the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying (OCL) received a telephone call from Mr. Guy Giorno, then Chief of Staff in the Prime Minister's Office. The purpose of the call was to report a possible breach of the Lobbying Act involving Mr. Keith Beardsley.

Mr. Giorno advised that his executive assistant had received a voicemail message from Mr. Beardsley on that day. The message indicated that Mr. Beardsley was attempting to organize a meeting between Mr. Giorno and a representative of DAVE Wireless, a cellular telephone company. The voicemail message from Mr. Beardsley had been followed later that same day by a written request for a meeting from Mr. Mark Ruban, a consultant lobbyist with True North Public Affairs (TNPA), an Ottawa firm representing DAVE Wireless.

As a former designated public office holder, Mr. Beardsley was subject to the five-year prohibition on lobbying found in section 10.11 of the Lobbying Act. The information brought to my attention indicated that he appeared to have engaged in lobbying activities when he contacted a public office holder to arrange a meeting between Mr. Giorno and Mr. John Bitove. Mr. Bitove was the Executive Chairman of DAVE Wireless, a mobile telephone and internet service provider that had commenced operating as Mobilicity.

Mr. Beardsley is a former employee of the Prime Minister's Office. In that Office, he held a position that was defined as a position occupied by a "designated public office holder" when the amendments to the Lobbyists Registration Act1, came into effect on July 2, 2008.

The Investigations Directorate conducted an administrative review and submitted a report to me on May 21, 2010. The Investigations Directorate concluded that Mr. Beardsley had engaged in registrable lobbying activity under the Lobbying Act while subject to the five-year prohibition on lobbying. Based on the report, I determined that an investigation should be initiated to ensure compliance with the Lobbying Act or the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct.

On May 28, 2010, I referred this matter to the RCMP in accordance with subsection 10.4(1) of the Lobbying Act, as I had reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Beardsley had committed an offence under the Lobbying Act. I followed my practice of providing a copy of the Administrative Review Report and supporting documentation to the RCMP. I then suspended my investigation in accordance with subsection 10.4(9) of the Lobbying Act, which requires that I may not continue an investigation until any investigation or charge regarding the same subject-matter has been finally disposed of.

The RCMP advised me, in a letter received on December 13, 2010, that they had decided not to lay charges, as they did not have sufficient evidence to determine payment. Despite the RCMP's decision not to proceed, I determined that I had sufficient grounds to continue with a Lobbyists' Code of Conduct investigation.

The Lobbyists' Code of Conduct Investigation

The Lobbyists' Code of Conduct investigation of Mr. Beardsley covered his activities on behalf of DAVE Wireless during the period of the engagement of True North Public Affairs (TNPA) by DAVE Wireless. It involved an examination of materials obtained, as well as information provided by Mr. Beardsley and his partners at TNPA, including the contractual arrangement between DAVE Wireless and TNPA. The investigation also included an examination of invoices for services rendered, correspondence with federal public office holders and interviews with federal public office holders, the partners of Mr. Beardsley and the clients of TNPA.

The Subject

Mr. Beardsley is a partner in the Ottawa-based consulting firm True North Public Affairs (TNPA). The firm's website indicates that he "…has been active in politics from the municipal to the federal level for over 30 years. He is known for his strategic sense and his ability to develop and implement complex advocacy campaigns, using a wide variety of tactics and being simultaneously engaged on a number of fronts."

His work experience in the federal government has included assignments as ministerial Chief of Staff and senior advisor in three federal departments, as well as Deputy Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He also served as the head of research for the Progressive Conservative Party and was a senior adviser in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, where he was involved in the areas of "…issue management and rapid response teams…"

Mr. Beardsley is a designated public office holder by virtue of his appointment under subsection 128(1) of the Public Service Employment Act to a position as a person employed in a minister's office, commonly referred to as exempt staff. He was employed by the Prime Minister's Office until July 4, 2008. As a result, he became subject to the five-year prohibition on lobbying that was enacted by Parliament when the Lobbying Act came into force on July 2, 2008. Mr. Beardsley is prohibited from engaging in registrable lobbying activity until July 5, 2013.

Mr. Beardsley has not been registered as a lobbyist since he left his position in the Prime Minister's Office.

The Clients

Data & Audio-Visual Enterprise Wireless Inc. (DAVE Wireless)

Data & Audio-Visual Enterprise Wireless Inc. (DAVE Wireless) is a cellular telephone company operating under the Mobilicity brand name. The company's Executive Chairman is Mr. John Bitove.

In 2008, DAVE Wireless participated in an auction of wireless spectrum organized by the Government of Canada along with other telecommunications companies. The company paid $243 million for airwave licences to operate in what were described as "10 of Canada's 13 biggest markets," and was due to begin offering service in the spring of 2010, in competition with Rogers, Bell, Telus and Globalive's WIND Mobile.

From November 23, 2009 to June 3, 2010, DAVE Wireless engaged the services of a consultant lobbyist to lobby on its behalf. The following subject matter was listed in the registration: "Legislation – Telecommunications Act, Section 16 – governing ownership of companies competing in Canada's wireless telecommunications sector."

DAVE Wireless had an active in-house corporation lobbyist registration from November 25, 2009 until April 19, 2010. The subject matter listed included "Radiocommunications Act with respect to Canadian control of a Canadian telecommunications company" and "Telecom Act with respect to Canadian control of a Canadian telecommunications company." A search of the Registry of Lobbyists indicated that the corporation had several communications with designated public office holders between November 30, 2009 and December 10, 2009. DAVE Wireless re-activated their in-house corporation lobbyist registration on November 18, 2011.

1 The amendments to the Lobbyists Registration Act were contained in the Federal Accountability Act, S.C. 2006, c. 9. Those amendments also changed the name of the Lobbyists Registration Act to the Lobbying Act. The definition of "designated public office holder" is set out in subsection 2(1) of the Lobbying Act.