Tuesday, January 14, 2014

On self-interest

With Chuck Strahl's massive conflict of interest between lobbying and patronage appointments already making news, the revelation that Vic Toews has found his way into the lobbying industry (having seemingly planned for it before he'd even resigned from Parliament) looks all the more noteworthy. And Toews' assertion that a lawyer who would seem to have accumulated substantial pensions through three different public roles has "got to make a living" trading off his political connections speaks volumes about how far removed Stephen Harper and has cabinet ministers are from the reality facing most Canadians.

That said, Toews' position does seem to fit the new revolving door into the Cons' typical pattern of ethical commentary.

As with centralized control, the misuse of public money for partisan purposes and a lack of accountability, lobbying looks to be just another area where the Cons have gone out of their way to do in government what they decried in opposition. And the U.S. influence seems to be unmistakable - as Toews is fully embracing the view that a transition from public office to a lobbying role should be both common and lucrative.

But Toews' addition to the list of Cons-turned-lobbyists does raise the question of how so many members of Harper's inner circle leave public service with the apparent assumption that their lone remaining purpose is to cash in. And it's not hard to see that mindset as a continuation of the Cons' attitude that governing is solely about helping themselves rather than the country.

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