Alberta Politics

Navigator hires Notley’s press secretary. Former NDP, Wildrose, PC MLAs go into business.

The realm of government relations and lobbying is a world that most Albertans will never be exposed to. The industry of influencing elected officials and government policy as practiced by private lobbying companies and government relations departments has been turned on its head by the recent election of the New Democratic Party in Alberta.

Faced with the reality that the government had not changed since 1971, most companies and lobbyists ignored the opposition parties and focused their efforts entirely on influencing politicians associated with the Progressive Conservative Party.

A search through the public Lobbyist Registry reveals dozens of former PC cabinet ministers, MLAs and staffers working as lobbyists for various companies and organizations. For many decades networking within the PC Party was the only strategy that could produce changes in government policy. That business plan is now obsolete. It is completely shattered.

Now with Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP as government, many companies and lobbyists with deep PC Party connections are searching for and reaching out to any New Democrats who may have connections and influence with the new government and, perhaps most importantly, have some insight into how Alberta’s new political leaders will operate.

  • An email circulated by Navigator Senior Principal Jason Hatcher last week announcing that Sally Housser, Press Secretary to  Ms. Notley during the recent election campaign and former deputy national director of the federal NDP, had been hired as a Senior Consultant in Edmonton. Navigator is known for its political connections to the PC Party, with Managing Principal Randy Dawson serving as the 2015 PC Party campaign manager and Mr. Hatcher as a spokesperson for Jim Prentice‘s 2014 leadership campaign.
  • Impact Consulting, a company run by Premier Ed Stelmach’s former Chief of Staff Elan MacDonald, recently announced the hiring of former NDP Caucus Communications Director Brookes Merritt. Mr. Merritt was a well-respected journalist in Alberta before working for the NDP Caucus and more recently in communications roles with the Government of Alberta.
  • Former NDP MLA Leo Piquette, former Wildrose MLA Shayne Saskiw and former PC and Wildrose MLA Guy Boutilier have joined forces with federal Conservative candidate Shannon Stubbs (Mr. Saskiw’s wife) and former Wildrose Party executive director Jonathon Wescott at the “Legal and Lobby” company Alberta Counsel Ltd. Mr. Piquette’s son, Colin Piquette, was recently elected as the NDP MLA for Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater, which raises questions about how much influence the father might have over his son in this new role.
  • The Hill Times reports on the response to the NDP election win by some of Canada’s larger government relations and lobbyist companies.

8 replies on “Navigator hires Notley’s press secretary. Former NDP, Wildrose, PC MLAs go into business.”

This does not pass the old-fashioned smell test. Navigator is driven by nothing other than power and the all mighty dollar. It may have been naive indeed to expect higher order principles from New Democrats.

The Orange crush should investigate the Alberta Treasury at the time Navigator polling suggested that the PC’s were in Third place (approx. 10 days before election) . Who looted the Alberta Treasury ? The money is still around even if the Paperwork and / or computer files do not exist. Will she allow them political cover if they promise to not go after her on policy ?

Jeez, TENET, if you expected that the lobby firms wouldn’t try to bring folks on to sell access, you are naive. As for the NDs who are joining the lobby firms, I am not surprised that they are, at heart, as capitalist as anyone. Finally, Alberta Counsel. Wow. A pantheon of has-beens, never wases, and a future federal back bencher (and I mean waaay back). I wonder if Leo’s decision to join this firm sewered his son’s chance of making Cabinet (which was a mortal lock, it seemed). Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

So what is so strange, that Lobbying firms which are legal are trying to hire NDP supporters as part of their outreach to the new government in Alberta. I joined because organizations and businesses have the right to lobby according the Lobby Act of 2007 and amended in Dec. 2014, but it must be done transparently and publicly. I fact the NDP have long advocated for the creation of legislation to prevent undue conniving and influence peddling of government official and ministers often done in secret before more stringent Lobby Act was introduce. All NDP governments in Canada had lobby firms with NDP connections to facilitate the exchange of information about government proposed changes to legislation and regulations but it was done correctly and transparent to public scrutiny.

I am unfamiliar with the economics of lobby groups. Who pays them? Is this information available to the public?

Leo, I never said it was strange. I said it wasn’t strange. And sure, what you do (sell access) is legal. Never said it wasn’t. Interesting though, that all of a sudden you’re a consultant lobbyist about five minutes after your son gets elected. As for your assertion that NDP governments relations with lobbyists were conducted “correctly and transparent to public scrutiny,” I would refer you to the following in BC – Bingogate, Dimitrios Pilarinos and the Fast Ferries program. In Saskatchewan – SPUDCO.

>>>>> As for the NDs who are joining the lobby firms, I am not surprised that they are, at heart, as capitalist as anyone.

Bob, it’s more appropriate to label them as opportunists rather than capitalists.

As a former Wildrose Justice Critic -Saskiew and his wife, Stubbs – a nominated CPC candidate – should all give their heads a shake. This is why they should all be disavowed by respective parties. Hasnt anyone in CPC land learnt that such husband-wife teams just cause trouble? Jaffer-Gerguis, Adams-Soudas, Mackay-Stronach. They don’t work for the party – they are moles who use their knowledge and pillow-talk to gain/weld power – or are perceived to have power- and it undermines the party. Same as kool-topp-guy, these are guaranteed to cause perception problems.

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