Four charged with lobbying offenses

A week after the Quebec Lobbyists’ Commissioner implored the provincial government to strengthen, expand and simplify the province’s lobby laws, and on the eve of his retirement, four lobbyists were charged with infringing the Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Act.

Under the Act, a consultant lobbyist must be registered no later than the 30th day, and an enterprise or organization lobbyist, no later than the 60th day, after the lobbyist begins to conduct lobbying activities on behalf of a client. The Lobbyists’ Commissioner alleges that these lobbyists did not.

Stéphane Dion, head of the Quebec City firm Paradigme Affaires Publiques, paid a $500 fine for the breach. Dion has numerous clients, including a numbered company that is seeking to obtain a license from Health Canada to become an authorized licensed producer of cannabis oil for medical purposes. Three Montreal businessmen are behind the $25 million project that could potentially hire up to 150 people in Huntingdon in the Montérégie region. According to Health Canada, the only Quebec authorized licensed medical producer of cannabis for medical purposes is Hydropothecary Corporation, located in Gatineau.

Dion also has nine mandates to lobby for the Urban Development Institute of Quebec, an independent, non-profit organization headed by former Parti québécois leader André Boisclair that acts as a “voice” for the commercial real estate industry.

Marie-Claude Johnson, co-founder and partner of Hatley Strategy Advisors and the daughter of former Quebec premier Pierre Marc Johnson, too was charged with the same offence as Dion. She plead not guilty. With offices in Montreal and Quebec City, Hatley is a public affairs firm specializing in communications and government relations.

Andrew Sheldon, former CEO and president of Medicago, too was charged, and he plead not guilty. Sheldon is now acting as a special advisor to Medicago’s new president, Dr. Bruce Clark, advisor to the Board of Directors, and government affairs advisor. The Quebec City-based company is a clinical-stage biotechnology company that uses proprietary plant-based technologies to develop and produce vaccines and antibodies. In May 2015, Medicago announced a $245 million investment to expand its vaccine manufacturing facility in Quebec City.

Réjean Breton, president of Association des Professionnels du Dépannage du Québec, faces two charges. He faces a maximum fine of $500.

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