N.S. NDP pushing for lobbyist legislation
Several months after Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil met with former prime minister Jean Chretien prompting concerns over the strength of lobbying law in the province, the NDP are pushing for legislation that would strengthen the power of the registrar.
“Nova Scotia should have the power to conduct an investigation when the registrar feels that it’s in order,” Gary Burrill told reporters Friday ahead of introducing his party’s bill. “That means that they would have the power to issue subpoenas and to gather evidence and to compel people to come and present evidence before them.”
The legislation would make changes to the Lobbyist Registration Act and launch a comprehensive review of the existing rules with a committee making further changes as needed.
Burrill referenced the March meeting between the provincial and former federal leaders as an example of why the rules should be ramped up.
Chretien, who is an adviser for Sydney Harbour Investment Partners, was sent a letter by the office of the registrar.
They received no reply.
“Mr. Chretien was basically able to thumb his nose at Nova Scotia and say, ‘Well you’ve sent me a letter, I don’t feel like paying any attention to that letter,'” Burrill said. “Under our act when a letter came from the lobbyist registrar in Nova Scotia you had better pay attention to it, you better have a discussion and the power will be there to make sure you do.”
At the time McNeil shrugged off questions that Chretien was lobbying on behalf of the project in their meeting.
He believed then, and continues to believe now, that no changes are required to the law.
“As it sits they have the ability to go investigate if someone makes a complaint,” McNeil said. “If someone is not happy with the outcome from the registrar they can go and forward that to another agency.”
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