Canada’s most-lobbied backbench MP in 2017, Francis Drouin, is a “rising star” who’s developed a reputation as a rural champion, say lobbyists.
Mr. Drouin’s 136 communications posted to the lobbyist registry in 2017 are connected to agriculture, tied to his work on the House Agriculture Committee and the interests of his Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Ont., constituents. A Hill Times analysis of more than 35,000 records filed to the lobbyists’ registry in 2017, as of Jan. 17, show Mr. Drouin as the fourth most lobbied MP, above all cabinet ministers save for Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains (Mississauga-Malton, Ont.).
Mr. Drouin’s French-speaking riding is a short drive from his office in Ottawa and speckled with farms.
“He really gets rural issues and he’s not afraid to speak out about them. He’s passionate,” said Jackie Choquette, Hill and Knowlton Canada’s vice-president of public affairs, calling him a “worker bee” and one known among caucus for getting things done.
“Francis Drouin is one to watch. He’s definitely a rising star.”
Former Liberal MP Joe Jordan, who has worked with “Frank” as many call him, echoed that assessment and noted he has “very good political instincts.”
Mr. Drouin is the only MP in the top 10 who isn’t either a cabinet minister, parliamentary secretary or committee chair.
“I realize that I’m just a simple backbench MP and I’m just a small piece of the pie but it helps me advocate on their issues as well because I find out what’s happening on the ground,” said Mr. Drouin, noting he has a lot of time for associations that often represent the interests of his riding.
Mr. Drouin has sat on the House Agriculture Committee since January 2016. He also sits on the Government Operations and Estimates Committee and chairs the all-party ALS Caucus.
At committee, an MP gets seven minutes to ask questions, which Mr. Drouin said isn’t enough to have “a fulsome discussion on issues,” so most of his conversations happen outside those meeting room walls.
Even so, he says no to meetings more than he says yes. Many of the meetings he did accept were focused on the Liberals’ agriculture policy framework and, in the fall, on trade and North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations.
He was a vocal supporter of supply management on the campaign trail ahead in 2015 and Ms. Choquette said he “never stopped,” calling him a “huge advocate internally” for the system.
In 2015, his riding was one of the many to turn from blue to red when Mr. Drouin took the historically Liberal stronghold from Conservative MP Pierre Lemieux, who held the riding between 2006 and 2015, and who last year ran for federal Conservative leadership.
Before being elected to Parliament, Mr. Drouin was a consultant with Capital Hill Group. Before his name started popping up all over the lobbyists’ registry as an office holder, he filed a few times as a lobbyist, from 2012 to January 2015, consulting for Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, the Canadian Medical Cannabis Industry Association, The NPD Group Inc., the UFC Ultimate Fighting Championship and more.
Former Liberal staffer and Environics vice-president Greg MacEachern has known him long time, dating back to his time in the government relations industry.
“He is somebody who is very accessible to stakeholders,” said Mr. MacEachern, helping them “reach the ear of government” and because he was on the other side “he understands what it’s like for people who don’t necessarily understand the cut and thrust of daily politics.”
As someone who knows the system from both ends, observers said he’ll also pick up the phone to talk to government officials and ministers’ offices on an issue. Mr. Drouin said that frank approach extends to groups communicating with the government.
“I’m a straight shooter—I just tell them what it is and if I think their message is not the right message or if they haven’t done their homework, I let them know,” Mr. Drouin said.
The Hill Times
|David Lametti||163||Liberal||Parliamentary secretary, innovation|
|Jonathan Wilkinson||147||Liberal||Parliamentary secretary, environment|
|Navdeep Bains||142||Liberal||Innovation minister|
Agriculture, Government Operations committees
|Jim Carr||133||Liberal||Natural Resources minister|
|Catherine McKenna||128||Liberal||Environment minister|
|Wayne Easter||125||Liberal||Chair, Finance Committee; co-chair, Canada-United States Interparliamentary Group|
|Andrew Leslie||124||Liberal||Parliamentary secretary, foreign affairs|
|Lawrence MacAulay||120||Liberal||Agriculture minister|
Parliamentary secretary, natural resources
|Lloyd Longfield||113||Liberal||Agriculture, Industry committees|
Chair, Liberal rural caucus; Indigenous Affairs, Natural Resources committees
|Francesco Sorbara||106||Liberal||Finance Committee; chair, Canada-Italy Interparliamentary Group|
|Julie Dabrusin||99||Liberal||Heritage, Public Safety committees|
|Pamela Goldsmith-Jones||99||Liberal||Parliamentary secretary, trade|
|Rodger Cuzner||97||Liberal||Parliamentary secretary, employment|
|Judy Sgro||92||Liberal||Chair, Transport and Liaison committees|
|Vance Badawey||85||Liberal||Transport, Scrutiny of Regulations committees|
Indigenous Affairs, Environment committees
|Adam Vaughan||84||Liberal||Parliamentary secretary, families|
|Jim Eglinski||83||Conservative||Heritage Committee|
|Bill Morneau||82||Liberal||Finance minister|
|James Maloney||81||Liberal||Chair, Natural Resources; Liaison Committee|
|Randeep Sarai||81||Liberal||Citizenship and Immigration Committee|
|Marc Garneau||79||Liberal||Transport minister|
|Dean Allison||77||Conservative||Trade critic; vice-chair, International Trade Committee|
|Scott Brison||75||Liberal||Treasury Board president|
|Elizabeth May||75||Green Party||Green Party leader|
Transport critic; vice-chair, Transport Committee
|François-Philippe Champagne||74||Liberal||International Trade minister|
— Source: Office of the Lobbying Commissioner of Canada