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Request for investigation into a close advisor of Poilievre

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Jenni Byrne is notably preparing the electoral strategy for the Conservative Party of Canada.

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The entourage of the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Poilievre, is in the hot seat due to the lobbying activities of one of his closest advisors, Jenni Byrne.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) is calling on the Federal Lobbying Commissioner to shed light on serious questions about Ms. Byrne's potentially inappropriate involvement in federal lobbying activities, according to MP Charlie Angus.

Jenni Byrne is a renowned Conservative strategist who successfully led Pierre Poilievre's leadership race. She now occupies a position of influence within her team of advisors.

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Pierre Poilievre during a Conservative caucus meeting in Ottawa (Archive photo)

Ms. Byrne is notably preparing the Conservative Party's electoral strategy. She is one of Mr. Poilievre's closest and most important advisors and regularly attends Conservative caucus meetings, says Charlie Angus.

The The problem, according to this NDP MP, is that the Conservative strategist is also CEO of a lobbying firm, Jenni Byrne and Associates (JB+A). The company says it is limited to representing clients at the provincial level in Ontario, which allows it to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest at the federal level.

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However, the creation of a new lobbying firm, Forecheck Strategies, which works out of the same offices as Jenni Byrne and Associates and which specializes in federal affairs, raises ethics questions, according to the NDP and the watchdog organization Democracy Watch.

MP Charlie Angus finds Jenni Byrne's potentially inappropriate lobbying activities concerning.

In his letter sent to the Commissioner of Lobbying, Nancy Bélanger, the MP expressed particular concern that Forecheck Strategies (FS) shares the same office and a large part of the staff as Jenni Byrne and Associates.

For example, Radio-Canada was able to verify that the president and vice-president of JB+A (Andrew Kimber and Simon Jefferies) are also president and vice-president from Forecheck Strategies. These two firms have the same address on Queen Street in Toronto. The Forecheck website is a copy and paste of that of Jenni Byrne and Associates in the description of the services offered.

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“Our CEO was described in the Globe and Mail as being “particularly good” at “making the damage””.

The Ontario business registry shows that the firm Forecheck Strategies was established on September 12, 2022, the day after the election of Pierre Poilievre as Conservative leader.

Checks carried out by Radio-Canada on the registry of lobbyists in Ottawa show that the four employees of Forecheck Strategies who acted as consultant lobbyists at the federal level over the past year are also employed by JB+A.

The man who is president of both FS and JB+A, Andrew Kimber, assures that Forecheck Strategies is a separate organization in which Jenni Byrne does not plays no role. She is not and has never been an employee, consultant, director or shareholder. She has never received and will not receive any compensation from Forecheck.

Jenni Byrne, Pierre Poilievre's office and the Conservative Party of Canada office did not respond to our requests for an interview.

L he watchdog Democracy Watch is also preparing to file a request for an investigation to the Lobbying Commissioner. Co-founder Duff Conacher cites the Lobbyists' Code of Ethics in particular.

Section 4.3 of this code states that you should not lobby a person when you could reasonably believe that they have a feeling of obligation towards you due to circumstances that go beyond the scope of the other rules in this code.

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Jennifer O'Connell and Charlie Angus.

Two advisors from Pierre Poilievre's office (specifically his policy advisor, Elan Harper, and his stakeholder relations advisor, Anton LoRi) met with Simon Jefferies, who is a vice president at Forecheck and JB+A.

In total, 15 Conservative MPs have been in contact with Forecheck Strategies lobbyists who are also employees of Jenni Byrne and Associates. Added to this are four Liberals, a New Democrat and five members of the public service.

It's a secret company, claims the Liberal MP Jennifer O'Connell, which she says demonstrates that the Conservatives are trying behind the scenes to help their wealthy friends in the business sector.

At first glance, there does not seem to be any violation of the Lobbyists' Code, indicates Pierre Martel, professor of political studies and public administration at the 'University of Ottawa.

However, Mr. Martel adds that this situation raises many questions that have the potential to be embarrassing for the office of Pierre Poilievre and for the chef himself.

The common structure between the two companies is such that a reasonable person could see in it an appearance of conflict of interest.

A quote from Pierre Martel, professor of political studies and public administration at the University of Ottawa

There should be a more watertight separation between the two companies, adds Professor Martel. Otherwise, it gives the impression that there are communicating vessels that certain people could benefit from.

This is very important, according to him, because When someone like Jenni Byrne holds an important and influential position with politicians, you have to be doubly careful about appearances.

Given Ms. Byrne's advisory role and her close relationship with Mr. Poilievre and the Conservative caucus, New Democrat Charlie Angus believes, Canadians deserve to be informed about her lobbying activities.< /p>

A Conservative source who requested anonymity confirms that Jenni Byrne occasionally attends the Conservative caucus, but only to discuss partisan politics and strategy electoral, never public policies that could be linked to JB+A's clients.

She is a conservative organizer and she does not lobby, from what I was told, affirms this source, who adds however that the caucus has never received an official explanation on the nature of its contractual situation with the party.

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