In one recent discussion of the Ottawa lobbying industry, I noted that political access is a commodity that is peddled seamlessly across party lines. However, it’s important to know that there is another important dimension: contacts between industry and the bureaucracy. Some wealthy purchasers of government influence take this tack, whereas the firm I looked at — Earnscliffe — is geared towards political party coverage. Sometimes you want to talk with other parts of government.
CFN Consultants, for instance, specializes in providing access to military bureaucrats. That’s something of interest to their list of clients, which is flush with defence contractors like Lockheed Martin (maker of the controversial F-35 jet fighter), General Dynamics (our current CF-18 Hornet fighter, amongst other deadly products), Norwegian missile producer and F-35 subcontractor Kongsberg, Swedish air giant Saab, German tank company Rheinmetall, helicopter maker Sikorsky, American military contractor Raytheon, and SNC Lavalin, friends of soon-to-be-former Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi.
Just as Earnscliffe is full of politicos, CFN is loaded with former military officers and DND bureaucrats. The ranks include three former Assistant Deputy Ministers of the Department of National Defence (senior partner Ray Sturgeon, associate John Leggat, and senior partner Pierre Lagueux), other retired generals (Kevin O’Keefe and Patty O’Donnell), and a retired Admiral (Peter Cairns). It boasts personnel who were managers on the government side of most of the major military purchases of the past two decades, including replacement helicopters, the CF-18 fighter, replacement ships (including frigates and submarines), new tanks, and advanced computer systems.
Examples from the rest of the firm tend to bear out what sort of influence is being peddled here. Lt. Col. Jerry Bourque worked as a military helicopter acquisition manager at DND, then a military helicopter salesman at Boeing, and now is a CFN “analyst.” The firm’s list of partners includes more former heads of major procurement programs (Chuck MacLennan), as well as more multiple Vice Chiefs of the Defence Staff, multiple Commanders of the Navy, various branch directors, and a NATO representative. If the Chinese government assembled this group, it would be considered a serious compromise of Canadian national security. But if you’re a large corporation looking to sell a fancy death machine to the Canadian government, you’ll want to talk to the fine folks at CFN Consultants.Tweet