HALIFAX — A Nova Scotia official has sent a letter to Jean Chretien asking him whether he lobbied the premier regarding a container port proposal in Cape Breton — but there’s no requirement the former prime minister even reply.
Hayley Clarke, the province’s registrar of lobbyists, said in an interview Thursday she sent the letter to Chretien’s Ottawa office at the beginning of the month, after receiving a complaint from a citizen about the meeting.
However, Clarke says she can only provide Chretien with information about how Nova Scotia’s Lobbyists Registration Act works, and has no legal authority to push the matter much further.
“We’ve advised him we’ve received a complaint. We’ve provided some information about our act and asked him to follow up,” she said.
There’s a request he answer by the end of this month, but it’s not a binding requirement, she said.
“It’s not an investigative procedure with legislated deadlines.”
The law does stipulate a fine of not more than $25,000 for a first offence for anyone who lobbies without registering first, but — unlike Ontario — Nova Scotia’s legislation doesn’t provide the registrar with investigative powers to determine if unregistered lobbying occurred.
Ultimately, it’s up to police to investigate illegal lobbying as a criminal matter, said Clarke.
The issue of Chretien’s activities in the province arose on March 21, after he met with Liberal Premier Stephen McNeil and Transport Minister Geoff MacLellan.
McNeil has repeatedly denied that any lobbying took place during the hour-long meeting, held at Chretien’s request in the premier’s office.
The day before the Halifax meeting, Chretien had attended a conference in Sydney in his capacity as a paid international adviser to Sydney Harbour Investment Partners, which has been looking for international investors for its project.
Asked by a Cape Breton Post reporter if he’d be meeting with the premier to discuss the project, Chretien said he would be.
Chretien told the reporter, “He (Premier Stephen McNeil) said he’s for the development and he wants development in Nova Scotia and he is the premier of all Nova Scotia. There’s always competition between one city and another but all the cities in Nova Scotia are in Nova Scotia.”
When he asked if the province should invest in the project, the former prime minister replied, “I hope so.”
When asked about another project along the Strait of Canso trying to develop a port, Chretien replied, “So what? I’m working for Sydney. I’m not working for them.”
Chretien did not respond …read more