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Dairy, oil and gas, mining were top lobbies of 2012

News | THE LOBBY MONITOR
Published: Wednesday, 01/23/2013 5:31 pm EST
Last Updated: Thursday, 01/24/2013 9:23 am EST

Dairy farmers and resource associations were the busiest lobby groups last year, topping exporters, bankers and the beef industry, among others, and achieving results on supply management and resource project reviews, the federal lobbyist registry shows.

Canada's dairy farmers, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, and the Mining Association of Canada reported the most communications with public office holders in 2012, with the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters and the Canadian Cattlemen's Association rounding out the top five (see list of top 20 below).

The various provincial and national dairy farmer associations topped this year's list, meeting with 308 public office holders in 122 meetings between them. The associations are grouped together in this list because they are all registered to lobby on trade issues related to the dairy industry, the registry shows. The Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) led the associations, contacting 138 public office holders in 63 reported meetings, while provincial associations from Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island all contacted office holders last year.

With the federal government looking to finalize its trade deal with Europe and entering negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the issue of supply management—a system of marketing boards matching supply with demand in the dairy, poultry and egg sectors—received considerable media attention last year. Dairy farmers also had to respond to concerted campaigns against the system from the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

In the DFC's spring 2013 activity report “Action+,” which is published twice per year, the DFC provided a summary of its recent lobbying and public relations efforts. In the fall of 2012, the association “met informally” with journalists from the Parliamentary press gallery who write about trade and supply management and invited several to visit a dairy farm to present the dairy farmers' position, the report said.

The DFC also made an effort to respond to think tank papers on supply management and provided media training for farmers interested in speaking to “the Ottawa media” about their experiences.

DFC president Wally Smith led a delegation to Brussels to support the government's trade position on the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), and the report said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Ed Fast “were very clear on their continued support for supply management” in a meeting. The report noted that the “remaining gaps” in the trade talks include the EU's insistence on access to Canada's dairy market and recognition of geographical indications, which could affect Canada's cheese sector.

The association also travelled to Auckland, New Zealand in December for the 15th round of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, the report said.

The Dairy Farmers of Canada did not respond to an interview request by deadline Wednesday.

Ontario Federation of Agriculture president Mark Wales told The Lobby Monitor in August that the federal government had been consistent in its message on supply management and that nothing had changed for dairy farmers.

“Anything that we've seen has indicated that supply management is not on the table, should not be on the table,” he said. “They've been clear in the press. Every time the issue comes up they end up back in the press to clarify the position one more time. And that's good, that's what they need to do. It reassures people that something's not being traded away in a back room.”

The DFC met with Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz 13 times in 2012, and once with International Trade Minister Ed Fast, the registry shows. The DFO met Ritz twice, and the Fédération des producteurs de lait du Québec reported one meeting with the minister, the registry shows.

The DFC's spring report also discussed Canadians' growing interest in farm sustainability, and retailers' and restaurateurs' need to disclose their purchasing habits: “DFC believes dairy farmers should be proactive and set the bar themselves, based on the various initiatives that are already driven by farmers, instead of waiting for others to dictate standards that may not be practical,” the report said.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, which represents Canada's oil and gas producers, maintained a steady presence in Ottawa throughout the year, with May, October and November as its busiest months in terms of meetings, the registry shows. CAPP contacted 282 public office holders in 220 meetings, communication reports show.

CAPP spokesman Travis Davies attributed the number of meetings partly to the various departments the sector touches and the number of office holders that want to meet the association.

“Often it's not just us requesting those meetings. It's often people that have an interest in the industry and want to know what it means to them,” he said, referring primarily to groups of MPs from different parties.

Last year's notable wins were related to regulatory reforms around what CAPP considered inefficient duplication of project reviews and clarity around timelines, which Davies said affects the sector's competitiveness.

The 2012 budget and its two implementation bills, C-38 and C-45, amended the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), the Fisheries Act, the National Energy Board Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act, and other statutes. The amendments speed up reviews of new energy and mining projects and environmental assessments, and give the federal cabinet more authority to approve projects.

This year, market access will continue to be a dominant issue, Davies said, with the “steep discount” Canadian petroleum products are selling for compared to world prices. In addition to TransCanada's Keystone XL and Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipelines, CAPP will be working on getting oil to eastern Canada with pipeline reversals and conversions. Davies said the association would be engaging local MPs and provincial governments along those routes.

“To make good policy decisions you need to have background information,” he said. “You need to know what's going on in those jurisdictions, whether it's basic understanding of the amount of oil that gets imported from foreign sources today, or whether it's about economic upside for those regions as a result of using more Canadian crude or enhancing the Canadian oil and gas industry.”

Late last year, CAPP's lobbying success received media attention after think tank the Polaris Institute released a report calling Canada a “petro-state” because of the oil industry's access to decision makers.

“I think that we need to continue to explain that we have a legitimate role, that this is a big part of what our country does. We're an exporting nation and this is the largest aspect of those exports,” Davies said. “We have to continue to make sure that both experienced and new people in government understand what we do and I think the onus is on us to keep doing that.”

Davies said CAPP would continue to communicate with the public through its extensive advertising campaign this year, and with the publication of its natural gas “dialogues.” The report will be an extension of the oilsands dialogues, he said, where the association went across the country and engaged stakeholder groups about their concerns, and then produced a report outlining what it intends to do about them.

Of the 282 public office holders CAPP contacted in 2012, 133 were parliamentarians, including 18 meetings with ministers, the registry shows. The association met four times each with Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and Environment Minister Peter Kent, the registry shows.

The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) also counts the streamlining of project reviews as its 2012 victory, vice-president for government affairs Johanne Sénécal said.

“The clear win was the CEAA '12, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act,” she said in an interview.

MAC's challenge this year will be making sure the implementation of CEAA's changes, particularly the list of major projects that will fall under the Major Project Management Office, includes mining projects and avoids the duplication of provincial reviews, Sénécal said.

When asked how MAC gets so many meetings with office holders, Sénécal said the association has always been engaged with officials from multiple departments, since the industry is subject to so many regulations.

“If you look at the importance of the mining industry to the Canadian economy, obviously the government is interested in having the industry's views on how it's doing and the regulatory framework in which it operates, whether it's working or not and why it's not working and what they can do,” she said.

MAC hosted its annual Mining Day on the Hill Nov. 20, where officials from its member companies were divided into groups with specific themes for their meetings. The registry shows 21 meetings with 33 officials that day.

Sénécal left StrategyCorp and joined MAC in October. The association still uses Global Public Affairs consultants to help with the logistics of the lobby day, she said, though the rest of the work is now being done in-house.

This year, MAC will work on human resources and skills training to address the aging population among mining workers, she said, and on clarity on the rules around Bill C-47, the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act, which will allow for more mining projects in the territory.

MAC focused primarily on public servants and political staff in its meetings. Of the 258 public office holders the association met last year, 88 were parliamentarians, including 19 meetings with ministers, the registry shows. The association reported four communications with Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver.

The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) lobbied on trade issues and to get the government's support for post-secondary programs in skilled trades, among other issues. The Canadian Cattlemen's Association spent much of the year lobbying on trade disputes with the U.S. and South Korea as well as access to other markets, and managed the XL Foods recall in October.

Below is a list of the top 20 firms and associations in terms of the number of communications reported in 2012 with designated public office holders (DPOHs). Because several office holders are present at some meetings, the list provides both the number of meetings reported and the total number of office holders contacted in those meetings. The links are to previous Lobby Monitor articles covering the parties' lobbying activities last year.

Firm or association Number of contacts with DPOHs (number of meetings)
1. Dairy Farmers of Canada et al 308 (122)
2. Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers 282 (220)
3. Canadian Mining Association 258 (160)
4. Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters 244 (121)
5. Canadian Cattlemen's Association 221 (149)
6. Canadian Bankers Association 195 (169)
7. Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs 185 (89)
8. Canadian National Railway 181 (106)
9. Forest Products Association of Canada 177 (86)
10. General Motors of Canada 176 (107)
11. Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada 172 (122)
12. Canadian Fertilizer Institute 167 (66)
13. Canadian Gas Association 138 (81)
14. Canadian Federation of Independent Business 134 (104)
15. Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association 127 (47)
16. Canadian Steel Producers Association 124 (91)
17. Canadian Federation of Agriculture 123 (76)
18. Ford Motor Company of Canada 116 (61)
19. Pembina Institute 110 (66)
20. Canadian Council of Chief Executives 109 (59)

With reporting by Mark Burgess at mburgess@lobbymonitor.ca

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story identified Mark Wales as president of the Dairy Farmers of Ontario. Wales is president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

  
                    
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