NRSP Controlled by Energy Lobbyists

Read time: 4 mins

Two of the three Directors on the board of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project are senior executives of the High Park Advocacy Group, a Toronto-based lobby firm that specializes in “energy, environment and ethics.”

Timothy Egan, is the president of the High Park Advocacy Group, and a registered lobbyist for the Canadian Gas Association and the Canadian Electricity Association. Julio Legos is the High Park Group’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, whose biography says, “Julio’s practice at HPG is focused on federal and provincial energy and environmental law and policy, particularly as they affect Canadian industry.”

The Executive Director of the NRSP, Tom Harris, is also a former High Park consultant, and the NRSP mailing address is in the building where, until recently, High Park maintained its Toronto offices.

It appears that High Park has taken a page from the APCO-Worldwide playbook. APCO is the PR and lobbying firm that created a “grassroots” organization called The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) on behalf of tobacco giant Philip Morris in the 1990s. In that situation, Steve Milloy “quit” APCO to set up a pro-tobacco website called Milloy later took over as executive director of TASSC and continues, today, to lobby against smoking restrictions. Documents, since made public, show that APCO established TASSC specifically to create the appearance of an arm’s length organization supporting tobacco’s cause.

In this instance, the creation of the NRSP as an “arm’s length” “grassroots” organization also enabled High Park and to avoid identifying who is paying for the NRSP’s public campaign against climate change regulations. The federal government’s own website makes this kind of “grassroots” lobbying subject to the restrictions of the Lobbyists’ Registration Act (subject to an important loophole).

The Question and Answer section under the General Registration Requirements of the act states:

“4. What is “grass-roots” lobbying?

“Grass-roots lobbying is a communications technique that encourages individual members of the public or organizations to communicate directly with public office holders in an attempt to influence the decisions of government. Such efforts primarily rely on use of the media or advertising, and result in mass letter writing and facsimile campaigns, telephone calls to public office holders, and public demonstrations.”

(Here, for the record, is a recent example of the NRSP’s Tom Harris doing just that.)

But setting up a separate organization allows High Park to claim an exception, also to be found in the Q&A section of the General Registration Requirements:

“5. I am involved in organizing and directing a grass-roots lobbying campaign. Do I have to register?

“If you are a registered lobbyist, you must report grass-roots lobbying as a communications technique. If you are not engaged in any registerable lobbying activity, it is not necessary to register for the grass-roots lobbying campaign.”

Thus, by removing himself from the High Park employee list and taking an office across the hall (the NRSP mailing address is #2-263 Roncesvalles Avenue, in Toronto; High Park’s address was, until very recently, #4-263 Roncesvalles Avenue) Tom Harris is able to carry out any direction Timothy Egan may be giving in this “grassroots” campaign against energy industry regulation without fulfilling what the Lobbyist act describes as the “obligation to provide accurate information to public office holders and to disclose the identity of the person or organization on whose behalf the representation is made and the purpose of the representation.”

The federal Lobbyists Registry was created specifically so that politicians and members of the public can know who is paying to influence the political decision-making process. To that end, the federal government’s Lobbyist Code of Conduct says:

“1. Identity and purpose

“Lobbyists shall, when making a representation to a public office holder, disclose the identity of the person or organization on whose behalf the representation is made, as well as the reasons for the approach.”

But Tom Harris is not technically a lobbyist and Timothy Egan and Julio Legos may well be “volunteering” their time as directors of the NRSP.

So, Egan is a registered lobbyist for the Canadian Gas Association, which is part of an energy industry coalition that includes the Canadian Nuclear Association, the Canadian Association of Oil Well Drilling Contractors, the Canadian Energy Alliance, the Propane Gas Association of Canada, Inc., the Petroleum Services Association of Canada, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association and the Coal Association of Canada, (as well as some conservation and alternative energy interests such as the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance, the Canadian Wind Energy Association and Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Canada). But while a paid apologist for this fossil-fuel-dominated group directs NRSP operations, and while the NRSP's stated purpose is to block government action on climate change - the Canadian public has no right to ask who's paying the bills for the NRSP campaign.

That may be legal, but it doesn't seem right.

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Harris started another thread at FreeDominion yesterday, quoting the Fred Michel article, here: Note the cynical poll at the top of the thread, and the 10 votes so far: “Do you think CPC MPs know most of the climate scare is nonsense? Yes, but they must pretend they believe for fear of media and enviro group criticism 80% [8] Yes, and many will soon start to say what is real 0% [0] No, most of them DO believe David Suzuki et al 20% [2] Other - please explain 0% [0] Total Votes : 10”

For people who claim to be know science, they sure have a terribly unscientific way of measuring public opinion! Rookies.

Jim ‘Smear’ Hoggan is up to his old tricks again. When your man-made global warming has no facts or science to back it all you have left is to write is a lame smear campaign. Stand up Jim Hoggan. Not a journalist, just a loser. The NRSP have science behind them and lobby about the science, not with personal smear campaigns. Stick to the science Jim.. if you have any!!

So what do you think the nefarious agenda of the Canadian Wind Enegy Association is in the ‘umbrella organization’? By the way, the umbrella organizations is not the CGA, they are merely members of a coalition which includes the organizations you list. Transparency dictates that beneficiaries such as partners in ANY policy initiative are listed. Call the NSRP to account by all means, but you are in danger of repeating the same error you made around Corcoran and the deniers. Let the truth speak, embellishment works against it.

Thank you Ottawacon. We have edited the reference to clarify the coalition-not-umbrella status, and to acknowledge the presence of the conservation and alternative-energy types.

You are not doing yourself any favours by smearing the names of anyone who disagrees with you. That is not science. That does more harm to whatever you are trying to accomplish than anything. If you can’t debate the subject..only villify don’t convince me of anything.

Yes, and let’s not demand standards or accountability in engineering or health any more either. this nonsense about smoking affecting health—-who cares if the guy happens to be on contract from a cigarette Co.? Revealing that is a personal attack. And also I don’t see why a handy guy who knows construction can’t design the new bridge to replace to one that fell down. Saying no just because he never went to University is just a nasty personal attack on a guy who might have done a good job, just so engineers can keep their salaries.

“I completely agree with fourhorses that the ultimate aim is to create a situation where the CPC can say assertively, “The science no longer supports the assumptions of the Kyoto Accord.”

However, politically this cannot be done overnight without the Conservatives taking what they consider to be an unacceptable hit (do people think they would really lose votes with this statement (from Canadians who would otherwise vote for them, that is?).

So, the solution put on this site a little while ago by Tina is one I would support as well - namely, they don’t take sides at all and admit they don’t know and so are holding unbiased, public hearings in which scientists from both sides are invited to testify. The resulting chaos, with claims all over the map, will do enough to thoroughly confuse everyone (which is appropriate, actually, since the science is so immature and, frankly, confusing) and take the wind out of the sails of the “we are causing a climate disaster and must stop it” camp entirely, and the CPC can quietly turn to important issues without really having had to say much at all.

What’s wrong with this approach?

Tom Harris, Executive Director, Natural Resources Stewardship Project

I find it amazing, that rather than debunk the “deniers” using scientific evidence, the response is to attack the messenger. No matter who Tom works for, teh one thing that cannot be denied,is Co2 is not now, nor has it ever been, a bad thing. It most certainly is not causing any rise in earths temperature.

Oh and Tom? there is nothing wrong with your approach at all.