Well, maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. Actually I’m not even sure what that title is supposed to mean, which exactly duplicates my feelings upon reading Environment Minister Peter Kent’s recent attempt to up the government’s ante against the environmental sector by accusing environmentalist organizations — all of them, in general — of engaging in “money laundering” on behalf of foreign interests. I have no idea what he’s talking about, so I assume this is just the usual griping about how many environmentalist groups get grant funding from American foundations.
So do many free-market research foundations like the Fraser Institute, incidentally (which is bankrolled in part by the Koch brothers who also finance the American Tea Party). But apparently it’s much more serious when environmentalists get foreigners’ money than when anti-government fanatics do.
This article was supposed to be about how, despite claiming to hate foreign interests who he claims are trying to take over Canada, minister Kent’s department actually dispensed huge sums of money to foreign corporations through contracts. But I can’t write that article, because Kent is one of several Cabinet ministers who is currently defying a government policy which requires him to post a list of all contracts over $10,000, signed in the last quarter. The latest list was due on April 30 and should cover the fourth quarter. So where is it?
Anyhow, that information isn’t available, so instead it’s time to revive another of my projects, the Lobbyist Watch, which is yet another example of the many myriad ways in which the Harper regime actually doesn’t mind whatsoever about a sea of foreign capital trying to launder its way into positions of influence in Canada. And yes, I’m using the word “launder” in Kent’s sense of the term.
When they first got into power, riding on a wave of Reform principle, the Harperites claimed to hate the lobbying sector. I share that hatred with them: there is no other profession which exists specifically to undermine democracy by selling political influence to the highest bidder. But now the Harperites’ hatred of lobbyists has cooled. Everyone’s good buddies again. Harper’s election-time PR guy, Jason Lietaer, is even a former tobacco lobbyist. But more to the point, they really don’t seem to mind that Ottawa’s professional lobbyist corps — which includes a growing number of former Harperite politicians and staffers — is being funded to a significant extent by the foreign money launderers which this government claims to oppose.
And unlike the environmentalists, the foreign-funded lobbyists are usually working for the for-profit sector. I suppose that makes it okay.
In April 2012, according to the registration documents filed with the Lobbying Commissioner, foreign-funded charities — any charities, really — didn’t count for much in the epidemic of influence peddling which permanently engulfs our national capital. Last month a total of 268 organizations registered to lobby the government.
Of those 268, 63 were foreign-based and -owned organizations (if I included Canadian organizations that sometimes get income from abroad, like the government does, my number would be far, far higher, probably approaching 100%). The entire non-profit sector accounted for 47 registrations, of which 7 came from unions and just 5 came from advocacy NGOs like the David Suzuki Foundation and Miningwatch Canada. So as you can see, if the government is worried about the influence of foreign capital, the environmentalist sector may not exactly be the smartest place to start.
The following table shows the total registrations by foreign interests and the areas of Canadian society currently being targeted by the government as being “enemies of the people of Canada.” The non-profit sector includes everything from Ducks Unlimited to the MS Society. The category the government is really upset about, advocacy groups like the David Suzuki Foundation, are way down there on the far right, next to the equally powerful unions. With so much representation, I’m sure one of them is bound to have some infinitesimally detectable influence on government policy anyday now, right?