Imagine that a professing evangelical Christian Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper is stooping so low that he is trying to buy votes with alcohol, beer.. Taxpayer’s money should never, ever be used to buy any alcohol anywhere.. will he also give out free playboys, condoms next too?
The Canadian Press OTTAWA – A free “beef and beer” night at a popular hangout near Parliament Hill has drawn attention to a smorgasbord of receptions, drinks and hors d’oeuvres lobbyists serve up to MPs. The cozy rounds of free alcohol and food have reached a scale where even some MPs say it’s time to establish a public registry for the events. One lobbyist says associations representing a range of interests host three or four receptions in and around Parliament Hill every day the House of Commons is sitting. An MP says lobbyists use the tactic to organize political support for favoured policies, acquisitions or decisions cabinet ministers are contemplating – without having to register the discussions under the Lobbying Act. “In the spirit of transparency for lobbying, it would make sense that all activities would be reported,” says New Democrat MP Paul Dewar. The beef-and-beer night took place the day the Harper government unveiled its recession budget on behalf of hard-pressed Canadians. The affair became a gossip item not just for the size of the crowd, but the quality of refreshments. Everyone who was invited and walked in the door received three complimentary beer tickets and a no-limit buffet of what participants later described as “really, really good” sirloin on a bun. The hosts – the Association of Canadian Brewers and the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association – invited all 308 MPs. Government guests spotted under the dim lighting included Treasury Board President Vic Toews, in charge of the federal purse strings, and Transport Minister John Baird. Baird said later that, as convivial as the night was, he did not have even a sip or a taste since he’s a vegetarian and does not drink beer. Baird led the Conservative campaign for transparency and stiffer rules for lobbyists when he steered the Public Accountability Act through Parliament in 2006. Ministers of state in the crowd included Alberta MP Rob Merrifield and Saskatchewan MP Lynne Yelich. Ontario Tory Dean Del Maestro, parliamentary secretary for Heritage Minister James Moore, was spotted, along with a handful of Conservative backbenchers as well as opposition MPs. New Democrat MP Peter Stoffer was among those who turned out, although he says he stayed for only 10 minutes because he had to rush off for another event. He said he sees nothing wrong with the receptions, lunches and meals the lobbyists host. “If they gave me a Mercedes Benz, that I would see would be a problem,” he said, adding the events are useful to gather information. Spokesmen for the two lobby groups that put on the night at the pub D’Arcy McGee’s emphasized the social aspect of the evening. But one of them acknowledged it was a lobbying event. “It’s part of our overall outreach strategy with government, so yes,” said Andre Fortin, public affairs director for the brewers. Fortin and a spokesman for the fuels group, Robin Speer, declined to disclose the cost of the event. They both said their associations do not reveal “budgetary” details. Other recent receptions and dinners included events by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, which invited all MPs to a Chateau Laurier wine and cheese reception during an annual conference and select MPs to a dinner the following evening. Stoffer says teams of individual farmers visited MPs’ offices before the dinner to lobby on issues such as continued producer control over the supply of food. He jokingly called the teams “swat squads” – a method also used by other interest groups. The Distillers Association of Canada has launched an annual whisky “tasting” for politicians. Association president Jan Westcott says the tastings, which he says began at the suggestion of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken, are meant to inform MPs about the industry and acquaint them with Canadian spirits. “Imagine you’re talking to some politician and you’re trying to get him to represent a point of view in, let’s say, fighting with a foreign government, because we are big exporters, to open up markets for us,” Westcott said. “If he doesn’t think that product is very good himself, how effective is he going to be in carrying the case for us?” Duff Conacher, of the government ethics monitoring group Democracy Watch, says recent guides issued by ethics commissioner Mary Dawson mean the complimentary food and drinks should be out of bounds for cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries if they are clearly an attempt at influence. Lobbyists must register contacts with cabinet ministers, parliamentary secretaries, police aides and senior bureaucrats, but there is no requirement to register the lobbying of backbench MPs. Liberal MP Roger Cuzner said he’s open to putting the receptions and informal lobbying on the record. “I don’t think anybody would be offended by it or be intimidated by developing a registry,” he said.
(Gal 5:19 KJV) Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Col 3:5 KJV) Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: