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Bains most lobbied cabinet minister since Trudeau won power in 2015, hands down

By Derek Abma      

His predecessors have also been heavily lobbied, but Innovation Minster Bains ‘has even broader responsibilities than past Industry ministers,’ says lobbyist.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, pictured in this photo shoot for The Hill Times' Power & Influence magazine, is the most lobbied minister in the federal government, as automakers, tech companies, universities, and many others seek an audience with him. The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright
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Navdeep Bains, Canada’s minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, is, hands down, the most lobbied member of the Trudeau cabinet since the government came to office in 2015.

Since the Liberals took over in November 2015 until earlier this month, a total of 245 communication reports outlining contact with Mr. Bains (Mississauga-Malton, Ont.) have accumulated on the federal lobbyists registry. The next two most lobbied cabinet members have been Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr (Winnipeg South Centre, Man.) with 191 reports and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan, P.E.I.) with 178.

The heavy lobbying of Mr. Bains is in line with previous Industry ministers, which his position replaced when Justin Trudeau’s (Papineau, Que.) Liberal government took office. A previous analysis by The Hill Times found that Industry minister James Moore was the most lobbied cabinet minister in 2014, the last full calendar year of the former Conservative government.

Sheamus Murphy, vice-president of federal advocacy at Counsel Public Affairs, is registered as having lobbied Minister Bains twice on behalf of the Ontario College of Art and Design University.

On why Industry ministers and now the Innovation minister are so heavily lobbied, he said: “The Industry minister had been the government’s interface with the private sector. They’ve been focused on a lot of the short- and long-term needs of specific industries.”

Counsel Public Affairs’ Sheamus Murphy. Photograph courtesy of Sheamus Murphy’s Twitter

Mr. Murphy added that under this government, Mr. Bains “has even broader responsibilities than past Industry minsters” that goes beyond the specific needs of companies and is focused more on the future prosperity of the country.

He said Science Minister Kirsty Duncan (Etobicoke North, Ont.) and Small Business and Tourism Minister Bardish Chagger (Waterloo, Ont.), who also work within the department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, have supported Mr. Bains’ mandate and have also “shown a willingness to work with stakeholders.”

Ms. Duncan is the seventh most lobbied cabinet minister with 118 communication reports, and Ms. Chagger is 10th with 94.

Mr. Murphy, a past manager of the federal Liberal Research Bureau and former staffer for the Ontario Liberal government, said his familiarity with Mr. Bains goes back to his time as an opposition MP and as a professor at Ryerson University and the University of Waterloo, adding that his interaction style is largely the same.

“He is extremely considerate towards everyone he meets,” Mr. Murphy said. “He wants to hear from them. He loves to debate new ideas. He’s genuinely curious and engaged.”

Mr. Bains’ lobbying suitors include several representatives of industry, particularly Canadian branches of large multinationals.

General Motors of Canada Co. is by far the most common lobbyist of Mr. Bains, having racked up 14 communication reports with the Innovation minister. When asked for comment on the company’s lobbying of Mr. Bains, GM Canada spokeswoman Jennifer Wright recycled the same statement she gave to The Hill Times when asked a few weeks earlier about the company’s lobbying of Finance Minister Bill Morneau (Toronto Centre, Ont.).

“We have very high regard for ministers Morneau and Bains and their focus on economic growth through innovation,” the statement read. “These meetings, as per our disclosures, were to discuss GM Canada’s hiring of 700 new infotainment, controls, and autonomous vehicle software engineers in Oshawa and Markham plus our successful 2016 labour negotiations, which resulted in our announcement of $554-million in new GM product mandate investments in Oshawa, St Catharines, and Woodstock, all of which is proceeding well.”

Ms. Wright said GM did not have anything to add when asked for elaboration on the company’s dealings with Mr. Bains, given that the company has filed 14 communication reports for him versus two for Mr. Morneau.

Other automakers have also lobbied Mr. Bains regularly. For instance, Ford Motor Co. of Canada has six reports filed, and FCA Canada Inc., the Canadian division of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has three.

Telecommunications providers have also lobbied Mr. Bains often. Bell Canada parent company BCE Inc. has registered four instances of contact with the Innovation minister, Telus Corp. is there five times, Rogers Communications Inc. has two reports, and Shaw Communications Inc. has one.

Telus spokeswoman Jacinthe Beaulieu said in an email: “Telus met with Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains and some of his staff on a few occasions to introduce ourselves, and discuss our shared vision of advancing Canada’s digital economy through broadband wireline and wireless networks in urban and rural areas, as well as the significant investments we’ve made in that important work.”

High-tech giants are also in the mix. Microsoft Canada has filed four reports, Cisco Systems Canada has three, and Google Canada also has three.

Colin McKay, Google Canada’s head of public policy and government relations, said the contact his company has had with Mr. Bains, as detailed on the lobbyists registry, are indicative of “events” that Mr. Bains and Google officials have attended together rather than “meetings.”

The most recent occasion was a conference of various technology representatives hosted by Go North Canada in Toronto in October, which featured an address from the Innovation minister, he said. A September encounter was a roundtable discussion hosted by Comunitech in Waterloo, Ont., Mr. McKay noted. The report for January 2016 marked Mr. Bains’ appearance at Google’s opening of its facility in Kitchener, Ont., he added.

Mr. McKay said Google’s discussions with Mr. Bains and officials from his office have centred on things such as: “How do we encourage startups to grow? How do we grow the tech ecosystem in Canada in collaboration with Canadian businesses and Canadian government? What sort of investments can we make in skills and learning to address both the skill shortages we see but also those shortages among all our partners in the startup and small-business ecosystem?”

Talking about Mr. Bains, Mr. McKay said: “It’s evident from our interactions and what we’ve seen from him in other situations that he’s knowledgeable and confortable in his portfolio, and particularly when it comes to the policy and economic issues around the tech industry, and that he works very hard with those communities to understand their problems and then to advocate on their behalf.”

He said the Conservative government and its last Industry minister, Mr. Moore, were “very different” but “equally interested in both the tech industry at large as well the digital economy.”

However, Mr. McKay said this current government’s “focus on innovation has given it the mandate to really dig into both the structural and social issues that have kept Canada from really, really growing, particularly in the tech space. And it’s given them licence to have a broader-ranging conversation both with Canadians in general as well as the industry.”

The post-secondary educational sector has also been active in lobbying Mr. Bains. There have been 34 communication reports from universities, or organizations representing universities or colleges, naming Mr. Bains.

Mr. Murphy, who’s lobbied Mr. Bains on behalf of the Ontario College of Art and Design University, said: “I think the entire post-secondary sector is very engaged in the innovation-agenda discussion. Absolutely, post-secondary institutions see themselves as generators of new ideas, of new approaches that can lead to products and services that have a real potential for the economy. And Mr. Bains is really laser-focused on this question of how Canada can up its innovation game, which goes beyond just the immediate needs of industry.”

Guy Breton, chair of the U15-Group of Canadian Research Universities and rector of the Université de Montréal—both of which have lobbied Mr. Bains multiple times—said in an emailed statement: “The U15 has been pleased to develop a strong relationship with Minister Bains. Our meetings with him dealt with the role of universities within the innovation agenda and within innovative ecosystems. Evidence from around the world shows clearly that globally competitive innovation ecosystems are anchored around world-class research universities.”

Asked about the difference in dealing with the current Innovation, Science and Economic Development minister and former Industry ministers, Mr. Breton said: “I was pleased that the title also includes the word ‘science,’ and also that the government appointed Kirsty Duncan as a full minister of Science. This underscores the government’s focus on innovation-driven economic growth and the role that fundamental science plays within it.”

Pamela Smyth, spokeswoman for the University of Waterloo, which has four communication reports for Mr. Bains, said in an email: “The Industry and now ISED minister has always been an important minister for the University of Waterloo due to our significant relationships with industry through our co-op program, industry research, and significant regional startup ecosystem.”


The Hill Times

Lobbyists’ reports indicating contact with Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains:

March 13, 2017: AFCC Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation Corp.

March 1, 2017: Festival Montréal en Lumière (three reports)

Feb. 23, 2017: Polytechnics Canada

Feb. 16, 2017: Ford Canada

Feb. 9, 2017: Bell Helicopter Textron Canada (consultant)

Feb. 9, 2017: Bell Helicopter Textron Canada (in-house)

Feb. 8, 2017: Mark Anthony Group Inc.

Feb. 6, 2017: Canadian Steel Producers Association

Feb. 6, 2017: Rio Tinto Canada Management

Feb. 6, 2017: University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Feb. 6, 2017: Ryerson University

Feb. 2, 2017: Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association

Jan. 26, 2017: Irving Shipbuilding

Jan. 19, 2017: Cisco Systems Canada

Jan. 19, 2017: SNC-Lavalin

Jan. 18, 2017: Microsoft Canada

Jan. 11, 2017: GM Canada

Jan. 11, 2017: Ford Canada

Jan. 10, 2017: Syngenta Canada

Jan. 10, 2017: GM Canada

Dec. 16, 2016: Ericsson Canada (two reports)

Dec. 16, 2016: Honda Canada

Dec. 15, 2016: Toronto Financial Services Alliance

Dec. 9, 2016: Magellan Aerospace (consultant)

Dec. 9, 2015: Magellan Aerospace (in-house)

Dec. 7, 2016: Telus

Dec. 6, 2016: Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations

Dec. 6, 2016: Bombardier

Dec. 5, 2016: Enterprise Machine Intelligence & Learning Initiative

Dec. 5, 2016: Sightline Innovation

Nov. 30, 2016: Telesat (consultant)

Nov. 30, 2016: Telesat (in-house)

Nov. 29, 2016: Wilfrid Laurier University

Nov. 17, 2016: University of Calgary

Nov. 16, 2016: Canada Organic Trade Association

Nov. 16, 2016: Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (consultant)

Nov. 16, 2016: Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (in-house)

Nov. 16, 2016: Apotex

Nov. 16, 2016: Sandoz Canada

Nov. 16, 2016: Teva Canada

Nov. 15, 2016: Bombardier

Nov. 3, 2016: Bombardier

Nov. 1, 2016: General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada

Oct. 31, 2016: Corporation internationale d’avitaillement de Montréal

Oct. 28, 2016: Google Canada

Oct. 27, 2016: GM Canada

Oct. 26, 2016: University of Alberta

Oct. 25, 2016: Cycle Capital Management

Oct. 24, 2016: Research Canada

Oct. 24, 2016: Ontario College of Art and Design University (consultant)

Oct. 24, 2016: Ontario College of Art and Design University (in-house)

Oct. 24, 2016: Quebecor Media

Oct. 21, 2016: Rogers Communications

Oct. 21, 2016: Telus

Oct. 20, 2016: Canadian National Railway

Oct. 20, 2016: Council of Canadian Innovators

Oct. 20, 2016: Université de Montréal

Oct. 19, 2016: GM Canada

Oct. 12, 2016: GM Canada

Oct. 12, 2016: Bell Canada

Oct. 11, 2016: Quebec Employers Council

Oct. 10, 2016: Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

Oct. 6, 2016: U15-Group of Canadian Research Universities

Oct. 6, 2016: Retail Council of Canada

Sept. 29, 2016: Canadian Natural Resources

Sept. 24, 2016: GM Canada

Sept. 23, 2016: Carleton University

Sept. 16, 2016: Hospital for Sick Children

Sept. 15, 2016: Magellan Aerospace

Sept. 15, 2016: Bombardier

Sept. 15, 2016: Google Canada

Sept. 15, 2016: University of Waterloo

Sept. 14, 2016: Cogeco

Sept. 13, 2016: Honda Canada

Sept. 9, 2016: University of Alberta

Sept. 9, 2016: University of Calgary

Sept. 8, 2016: University of Alberta

Sept. 7, 2016: Colleges and Institutes Canada

Sept. 6, 2016: GM Canada

Sept. 6, 2016: Ford Canada

Sept. 1, 2016: MDA Systems (three reports)

Aug. 31, 2016: Porter Airlines

Aug. 30, 2016: World Vision Canada

Aug. 24, 2016: Université de Montréal

Aug. 22, 2016: Mushkegowuk Council

Aug. 10, 2016: MDA Systems

July 26, 2016: General Electric Canada

July 26, 2016: Mohawk College

July 25, 2016: BASF Canada

July 25, 2016: Western University

July 22, 2016: Council of Canadian Innovators

July 21, 2016: Mitacs

July 21, 2016: Queen’s University

July 19, 2016: Futurpreneur Canada

July 18, 2016: Xerox Canada

July 12, 2016: Bell Helicopter Textron Canada (consultant)

July 12, 2016: Bell Helicopter Textron Canada (in-house)

July 12, 2016: CAE Inc.

July 12, 2016: General Electric Canada

July 11, 2016: Bombardier (consultant)

July 11, 2016: Bombardier (in-house)

July 10, 2016: Magellan Aerospace

July 10, 2016: Dessault Aviation

July 4, 2016: Hospital for Sick Children

June 21, 2016: Canadian Chamber of Commerce

June 17, 2016: Music Canada

June 15, 2016: Rick Hanson Foundation

June 10, 2016: Magellan Aerospace

June 10, 2016: GM Canada

June 8, 2016: Cisco Systems Canada

June 7, 2016: BioteCanada

June 7, 2016: Université de Montréal

June 6, 2016: Janssen Inc.

June 6, 2016: GlaxoSmithKline

June 4, 2016: Ryerson University

June 2, 2016: Apotex (two consultant reports)

June 2, 2016: Apotex (one in-house report)

June 2, 2016: Corridor Communications (two consultant reports)

June 2, 2016: Corridor Communications (one in-house report)

May 31, 2016: Bell Canada

May 30, 2016: Genome Canada

May 28, 2016: Sightline Innovation

May 27, 2016: HealthCareCAN

May 19, 2016: Food Processors of Canada

May 18, 2016: Motion Picture Association-Canada

May 15, 2016: University of Calgary

May 13, 2016: U15-Group of Canadian Research Universities

May 12, 2016: Teva Canada

May 9, 2016: University of Ottawa

May 6, 2016: GM Canada

May 5, 2016: Freedom Mobile

May 2, 2016: SNC-Lavalin

April 29, 2016: United Steelworkers

April 22, 2016: Respol Oil & Gas Canada

April 22, 2016: FCA Canada

April 21, 2016: Ontario College of Art and Design University (consultant)

April 21, 2016: Ontario College of Art and Design University (in-house)

April 21, 2016: Com Dev International

April 20, 2016: Cycle Capital Management

April 19, 2016: Bombardier (consultant)

April 19, 2016: Bombardier (in-house)

April 19, 2016: Canadian Federation of Independent Business

April 15, 2016: Royal Bank of Canada

April 15, 2016: Cisco Systems Canada

April 15, 2016: Quebecor Media

April 11, 2016: Bell Canada

April 9, 2016: Bombardier

April 8, 2016: McMaster University

April 7, 2016: University of Waterloo

April 1, 2016: Canadian Tire

March 30, 2016: BlackBerry

March 30, 2016: Polytechnics Canada

March 29, 2016: GM Canada

March 23, 2016: Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

March 21, 2016: Maple Leaf Foods

March 18, 2016: Bombardier

March 18, 2016: The Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec

March 15, 2016: York University

March 14, 2016: GM Canada

March 9, 2016: Apotex

March 9, 2016: Sightline Innovation

March 7, 2016: University of British Columbia

March 4, 2016: University of Alberta

March 3, 2016: Business Council of British Columba

March 2, 2016: FPInnovations

March 1, 2016: Canada Organic Trade Organization

March 1, 2016: BASF Canada

March 1, 2016: General Electric Canada

March 1, 2016: Telus

Feb. 29, 2016: Business Council of British Columbia

Feb. 26, 2016: SNC-Lavalin

Feb. 23, 2016: Food and Consumer Products of Canada

Feb. 23, 2016: Information Technology Association of Canada (two in-house reports)

Feb. 23, 2016: Information Technology Association of Canada (one consultant report)

Feb. 23, 2016: Xerox Canada

Feb. 23, 2016: Telus

Feb. 22, 2016: Entertainment Software Association of Canada

Feb. 22, 2016: Ford Canada

Feb. 22, 2016: Microsoft Canada

Feb. 12, 2016: Bombardier

Feb. 11, 2016: University of New Brunswick

Feb. 11, 2016: Irving Shipbuilding

Feb. 10, 2016: University of New Brunswick

Feb. 5, 2016: Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

Feb. 4, 2016: Unifor

Feb. 2, 2016: Rio Tinto Aluminum

Feb. 1, 2016: Canadian Steel Producers Association

Feb. 1, 2016: Northwestel

Jan. 29, 2016: Greater Toronto Airports Authority

Jan. 29, 2016: Thermal Technology Services

Jan 27, 2016: SaskTel

Jan. 15, 2016: 3M Canada

Jan. 15, 2016: Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

Jan. 15, 2016: General Electric Canada

Jan. 15, 2016: Xerox Canada

Jan. 15, 2016: Nova Chemicals

Jan. 15, 2016: Manitoba Telecom Services

Jan. 14, 2016: Google Canada

Jan. 14, 2016: University of Waterloo

Jan. 12, 2016: GM Canada

Jan. 12, 2016: Ford Canada (two reports)

Jan. 12, 2016: FCA Canada

Jan 11, 2016: University of Waterloo

Jan. 8, 2016: Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada

Jan. 8, 2016: Bell Canada

Jan. 5, 2016: eBay Canada (two consultant reports)

Jan. 5, 2016: eBay Canada (one in-house report)

Dec. 31, 2015: Cavalia

Dec. 18, 2015: Quebecor Media

Dec. 17, 2015: Bombardier

Dec. 14, 2015: Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association

Dec. 11, 2015: FCA Canada

Dec. 10, 2015: BioteCanada

Dec. 10, 2015: The Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec

Dec. 10, 2015: Microsoft Canada

Dec. 9, 2015: Mining Association of Canada

Dec. 9, 2015: Toyota Canada

Dec. 7, 2015: Shaw Communications

Dec. 3, 2015: Microsoft Canada

Dec. 1, 2015: GM Canada

Dec. 1, 2015: Honda Canada

Nov. 23, 2015: Freedom Mobile

Nov. 20, 2015: Xplornet Communications

Nov. 20, 2015: Telus

Nov. 20, 2015: Manitoba Telecom Services

Nov. 20, 2015: Quebecor Media

Nov. 19, 2015: SaskTel

Nov. 18, 2015: Bombardier (consultant)

Nov. 18, 2015: Bombardier (in-house)

Nov. 18, 2015: Rogers Communications

Nov. 17, 2015: MPC Montreal

Nov. 13, 2015: Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

Nov. 13, 2015: Ford Canada

Nov. 13, 2015: GM Canada

Nov. 10, 2015: Calgary Zoo

Lobbying reports filed for cabinet ministers since November 2015:

  1. Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains (245)
  2. Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr (191)
  3. Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay (178)
  4. Transport Minister Marc Garneau (155)
  5. Environment Minister Catherine McKenna (131)
  6. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland (formerly International Trade) (125)
  7. Science Minister Kirsty Duncan (118)
  8. Health Minister Jane Philpott (116)
  9. Finance Minister Bill Morneau (110)
  10. Small Business and Tourism Minister/Government House Leader Bardish Chagger (94)
  11. Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi (88)
  12. Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly (82)
  13. Treasury Board President Scott Brison (80)
  14. Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr (78)
  15. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (75)
  16. Sport and Persons with Disabilities Minister Carla Qualtrough (74)
  17. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale (68)
  18. International Development Officer Marie-Claude Bibeau (56)
  19. Public Services Minister Judy Foot (55)
  20. Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc (formerly government House leader) (38)
  21. Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett (37)
  22. Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould (35)
  23. Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos (34)
  24. Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef (formerly Democratic Institutions) (33)
  25. Employment Minister Patty Hajdu (formerly Status of Women) (31)
  26. International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne (18) *
  27. National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan (17)
  28. National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier (16)
  29. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen (4) *
  30. Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould (0) *

* Communication reports filed before joining cabinet not included

Source: Federal lobbyists registry as of March 20

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