Corporate lobbies have too much influence

On Friday, May 3rd, 2019 in Debate, Parliament

Ms. Elizabeth May – Member for Saanich—Gulf Islands

Mr. Speaker, I am hoping for something that probably is not possible, and that is if we could take some of the partisanship out of this motion and look at it as a deeply generic problem of every government in the country, provincial and federal, regardless of who is in the PMO. Corporate lobbies have too much influence.

There is an excellent book by the former leader of the Alberta Liberal Party, Kevin Taft. His book is called Oil’s Deep State, in which he chronicles how it was that even with a change of government in Alberta, the control over government policy, particularly energy policy, was deeply held by big oil. The term that is used by academics a lot is the problem of “captive” regulators. The National Energy Board is captive to the industry it regulates and so is Health Canada quite captive to big pharma. We could go issue by issue, department by department.

I would ask my hon. colleague if he thinks we could elevate this debate by looking at the problem generically and not targeting just one party. I would put to him that it is endemic.

Mr. Daniel Blaikie – Member for Elmwood-Transcona

Mr. Speaker, the point the hon. member is raising, to which I am sympathetic, is that power does not just reside in the halls of government. The power of capital, the power of people with money, is very real. The power of people who employ other people is real power as well. Therefore, any government of the day only has its hands on the levers of so much power.

What I am trying to get to by noticing a pattern of behaviour in the current government, just as there was a pattern of behaviour in the previous government, and there have been only two parties ever in power in Canada, is that when it comes to those levers, those levers of power we can get democratically through elections and democratically governments are just some of them. This is why it is so important that people who control those levers fight for the right causes and the interests of everyday Canadians instead of acquiescing to the demands of corporate Canada. There is no guarantee of success in those things, because not all the power resides here.

I take the point, but if we want to talk about how to fix that problem, surely part of that, which I imagine is why the hon. member decided to run for politics, is to replace people who are too beholding to those interests and do not see the conflict of interest between corporate Canada’s interests sometimes and the interests of everyday working Canadians. This is the other point that is very important to address in this debate. Therefore, I do not apologize for spending time on it.

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