I must award my old friend Jamie Carroll full points for chutzpah for his attempt to head off charges of violating the Lobbying Act with a constitutional challenge..
The RCMP last year red-carded the former Liberal Party executive director and Stephane Dion leadership sluggo, alleging he had been remiss in his paperwork, entering into an “undertaking to communicate with public office holders for payment” on behalf of La Vie Executive Health Centre in 2012, but failing to duly register as their arse-creeper with the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying.
Jamie’s legalist, Michael Johnston (Shore Davis Johnston), argued that forcing lobby weasels to disclose which public officials they’re trying to influence, let alone the when and the why, violated not only Charter guarantees of freedom of expression, but the right to “petition the monarch,” as vouchsafed by the British Bill of Rights (1689).
The founding drunks of this great dominion, after all, would never have impinged on the right of the well-connected and ethically agile to earn an honest living whispering secretly in the ears of officialdom for moneyed interests. That, sir, is not our Canada!
Alas, Justice Diane Lahaie took a mere 48 hours to dismiss Johnston’s knee-slapper, and Jamie goes to trial February 29. In the thoroughly unlikely event of a conviction, he could, worst case, be looking at a $200,000 fine and/or two years in pokey.
When the charges landed last year, Jamie took to Facebook to deny the allegations and the alligator: “In 2012, I was an employee of Tactix Government Relations & Public Affairs. My role at Tactix was focused on business development. At no time did I ever lobby anyone in government on behalf of the client in question.”
“I vigorously deny this charge and while I will not be litigating this matter in public (and therefore will have no further comment) I hope that those who know me and know how hard I have worked to build my reputation over many years in Ottawa know I would never be so foolish as to risk it on a matter like this.”
Quick to lend a supportive word about Jamie’s unrivalled integrity were Facebook friends Warren Kinsella and Kory Teneycke (say no more!!—ed.) and that’s good enough for Frank.
To be fair, though, Jamie’s labours in a series of fartcatching gigs in the Martin interregnum, (behind Veronique de Passile in PMO, then Fishmin Geoff Regan and Dion at Environment) left him with few admirers in Ottawa, especially in his stint at Environment, where committee members marvelled at both his prickish oeuvre and his cranial impermeability.
Nonetheless, Jamie demonstrated his loyalty and utility as financial agent to Team Backpack Boy, personally loaning $30,000 to his leadership war chest.
Where had the then-28-year-old shineboy found that kind of scratch? Some suggested galpal Megan Meltzer (now Jamie’s delightful spouse), a fellow Dionista and former Laurier Club bag girl, might have been of some assistance in this matter. Or, more specifically, her moneybags mater and pater in Montreal, who were in the habit of furnishing the young couple with, among other amenities, restorative holidays at the palatial family spread in West Palm Beach.
Whatever its ultimate source, Jamie’s generosity was compounded by a leisurely repayment schedule; Dion’s leadership campaign debt long outlived his, er, leadership, with the last creditors paid off sometime in 2012.
By that time, Jamie was long gone from his reward gig as party executive director, obliged to walk the plank in ’07 after too many public feuds with Iggy’s stooges and some tragically misunderstood remarks about francophones and Chinese Canadians in the party.
Ottawa can be a cold-ass town for those on the political outs and Jamie, with Megan preggers, severance running down and employment elusive, could no doubt have used his $30K about then.
Ma and Pa Meltzer’s chequebook of course, was never far away, and will no doubt come in handy should the price of Jamie’s ongoing legal travails and ancillary constitutional gambits prove excessively dear.