Nathan Cullen calls for Conservatives to close loopholes

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen is calling for regulation changes to close lobbying loopholes.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen is calling for regulation changes to close lobbying loopholes.

Cullen was calling for the changes after reports former Conservative MP and cabinet minister Chuck Strahl, who is currently overseeing Canada’s national intelligence agency, is also lobbying on behalf of Enbridge Northern Gateway.

Cullen said “It should be common sense that someone on the federal payroll, like Mr. Strahl, shouldn’t lobby for a pipeline seeking federal approval.”

Strahl, while no longer an MP, has since been appointed as the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Services Review Committee (SIRC), which oversees Canada’s national intelligence agency CSIS.

“People don’t believe me at first,” said Cullen of the reaction to his criticism. “They don’t believe that someone who’s been appointed by the Prime Minister to be a watchdog of our spy agency thought it was also a good idea to lobby for company’s like Enbridge and company’s owned by the Chinese government who our own spy agency has been implicated with.

“It such an obvious conflict of interest.”

“The problem with a spy agency watchdog is that all their ‘watchdogging’ is done in secret,” said Cullen.

Ivan Giesbrecht, spokesman for Enbridge Northern Gateway, said the company is fully compliant with all the applicable regulations.

It is against regulations for a former minister to lobby federally, but legal for Strahl to lobby a provincial government, including on federal pipelines.

“I don’t see it as a conflict of interest,” said Giesbrecht. “Chuck Strahl has a very solid reputation.”

Giesbrecht said Strahl was working for Enbridge Northern Gateway before his appointment to SIRC and before taking the role at SIRC, he did check with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to ensure there were no concerns regarding his work with Enbridge.

The Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner confirmed Strahl had contacted the office and the office had no grounds to believe there was a contravention of the Conflict of Interest Act.

Stephen Lecce, spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office, responded to questions regarding Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s knowledge of Strahl’s lobbying work and possible image or conflict issues resulting from it with an emailed statement.

“We expect that all members of the Security Intelligence Review Committee to conduct their activities in accordance with Canadian laws,” he said.