Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Inside the Procedure and House Affairs Committee : Ullyatt

Further adventures in Con Leakage to lobbyists.

Russell Ullyatt, Con MP Kelly Block's staffer who leaked a pre-budget finance committee draft report to five Con-connected tax industry lobbyists before MPs had seen it, was grilled at the Procedure and House Affairs Committee today.

Mr. Ullyatt could not be more contrite. Mr. Ullyatt cannot say enough wonderful things about his totally blameless former employer Kelly Block, who he worked for for two years before leaking docs out of her office to exactly the same five lobbyists to whom he was applying for jobs. Mr. Ullyatt has a longer list of people he is apologizing to than Academy Awards winners have people to thank. Mr. Ullyatt is breaking my heart here.

First question is from Lib MP Ratansi - not usually my favorite committee interrogator but she has it totally pegged : "Who coached you for your appearance here today?"

Ullyatt responds well you know his family, his friends, but not the Cons - oh no, not the Cons.

Ratansi circles around, comes back at him. Um ok yes actually he did retain Con Party lawyer Paul Lepsoe of Con in-and-out court case fame to coach him today. Busted.

Ratansi also points out that eight hours elapsed between first and last leak, which pretty well blows the momentary lapse of judgement part of his heartbreaking apology all to shit.

And holy crap I'll bet Lepsoe wishes he had been allowed to sit next to Ullyatt in committee and stop him from scoring on his own goal by offering up the entirely unsolicited info that he asked one of the lobbyists he leaked the docs to - Egan, CEO of the Canadian Gas Association -if Egan had any specific questions he would like Block to put to Egan during Egan's appearance before the Finance committee. Oh dear.

NDP MP Mulcair wants to know about the "slats and pallets, with boxes piled high and a very elaborate printing machine" he has seen sitting outside Block's office when he walks by. Would that would be Ullyatt's on-the-side business R. U. Thinking, "Canada’s only completely political mail provider," that has sent out "over 5 million mailouts in the last two years"? Yes, it would. How long did he work for Block again? Two years. Does Block know about his on-the-side biz? Um.................yes. But Ullyatt assures the committee he didn't operate his private business out of her office which would, incidentally, be totally illegal. [slats of mailouts out side her office? what slats?] No, he operated it out of his garage. Oh dear again.

Rather handy, isn't it, that the upshot of yet another low level staffer being busted is that the final committee report will now be shelved, leaving opposition parties and the over 400 witnesses who have appeared before finance committee without any input at all into next federal budget, so now the whole show belongs entirely to Flaherty. The problem is that it was the draft committee report that was leaked and drafts reveal all the horse-trading the opposition parties do in camera - and none of them wants that aired in public. This is just total bullshit on your part, opposition parties.

Next up - Ullyatt's five "friends" as he refers to them at least 50 times - the lobbyists who received Ullyatt's clearly marked Confidential report.

Lynne Hamilton, former Mike Harris alumnus and media co-ordinator for Walkerton water tragedy, now a VP at GCI Group and author of the "I heart you" response to Ullyatt upon receiving the leaked doc, says she never read it. Moreover she points out that as a former Senior Special Assistant to Secretary of State Helena Guergis, Ullyart can not be hired as a lobbyist by her company anyway.

Andy Gibbons, former legislative assistant to Con MP Leon Benoit and now at Hill and Knowlton, said Ullyatt knew he was following the finance committee but he did not solicit the report. Gibbons sent a paragraph of the leaked report on to his client Merck Frosst and someone else at Hill and Knowlton.

Clarke Cross, former Legislative Assistant to Con/Alliance MPs James Lunney and Leon Benoit, and now senior consultant with Tactix Government Relations and Public Affairs Group, forwarded "a summation of two points" from the report on to "one person at the University of Calgary". Huh.

Howard Mains, formerly with the Mulroney government and now Co-President of Tactix, never read Ullyatt's email and is hearing the contents of the email for the first time just now apparently.

Tim Egan, CEO of the Canadian Gas Association and founding director of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, the Tim Ball and Tom Harris climate change skeptics group, also never read Ullyatt's email because it caught in his spam filter.

Testimony from these lobbyists, btw, marks the single greatest number of times I have ever heard the term 'pro-active' used to describe the failure to anticipate an oncoming shitstorm.
Pro-active. For those days when "going forward" just isn't strong enough.


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Holly Stick said...

Thank you so much, Alison, for that lucid report.

The mail-order business aspect was new to me; does that mean he's one of the jurks mailing out ten-percenters?

I ran across Paul Szabo talking in Hansard on Nov 29 about that:

Anonymous said...

Four out of five lobbyists recommend starting out as a legislative assistant. Ask what your MP can do for you today!

Antonia Z said...

Great post, thanks.

Alison said...

Thanks for that link to Szabo's speech, Holly Stick. Interesting that it was Baird's ParlSec Lukiwski who on Nov 29 tried to suppress Szabo's calls for an investigation by the PROC committee. Lukiwski is on the PROC committee. Con MPs on PROC mostly in damage control mode here, trying to separate censure of the lobbyists from any taint falling on Block.

I do wish this was taken more seriously in the press. For lobbyists and their industry clients to know the individual in camera positions of members of the finance committee gives those clients enormous leverage. Not good enough to have lobbyists just swear they didn't read them.

Would really like to know who at the U of Calgary farm team is getting insider info from the finance committee.

Beijing York said...

Would really like to know who at the U of Calgary farm team is getting insider info from the finance committee.


Could it be Tom Flanagan?

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