Canada

The best of both worlds

IAN URQUHART May 3 1976
Canada

The best of both worlds

IAN URQUHART May 3 1976

The best of both worlds

OTTAWA

Consulting firms usually prefer to work in the background, without publicity or fanfare, but in the year it has been in existence the firm of Reisman & Grandy Ltd. has been making almost as many headlines as the clients it serves. The reason is that the two proprietors, Simon Reisman, former deputy minister of finance, and James Grandy, former deputy minister of industry, trade, and commerce, had more than 50 years service in the civil service between them before they got out last year on early retirement (with pensions reported to be in the $30,000-a-year bracket). Although the two former mandarins say they are marketing their knowledge of government and not their influence, the potential for conflict of interest still seems to be there. The two make a tempting target for the opposition and press, who have uncovered some controversial dealings involving the firm.

First there were the contracts let to Reisman & Grandy by their former departments to wind up their civil service affairs

and provide a smooth transition. Then there was the contract to provide “professional and technical advice” to Lockheed Aircraft Corp., the American aircraft manufacturer with a history of greasing palms that is trying to sell 18 military patrol planes to Canada for one billion dollars. Now it is reliably reported that Reisman & Grandy have also got a contract from the Canada Development Corporation, which is two thirds owned by the government and of which they were both ex officio directors as deputy ministers. Reisman was kept on the CDC’S executive committee, which passes on all corporate contracts of major size. Both Reisman & Grandy Ltd. and the CDC have refused to confirm or deny that a contract was awarded.

Reisman and Grandy are not the only mandarins to get out of the civil service and trade on their knowledge, just the most prominent ones. “It is a practice,” says Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, “which leaves me somewhat uneasy.” Trudeau’s advisers are working on guidelines to govern civil servants who go into private business. But, says one, “it’s a very, very difficult issue. You’re extending government into the lives of private citizens.” Says Public Service Commission Chairman John Carson: “Short of performing a frontal lobotomy on civil servants as they leave, you have to go on good faith.”

MP Walter Baker, the Conservative

House leader, has suggested a twoyear “cooling-off” period for retired civil servants during which they could not deal in areas related to their former

jobs. Says Baker: “It is improper for a public servant, especially a highly placed, well-paid public servant, to leave a position with the federal govern-

-ment and go into business for himself, making representations on behalf of clients in areas in which he or she only recently had previous jurisdiction and authority ... Canadian public servants are well paid, their pensions are justifiably high, so the federal government should have no qualms whatsoever in demanding the highest ethical and moral standards from them when they leave the public service.”

Reisman and Grandy, for their part, wonder what all the fuss is about and point out that it is stated government policy to encourage the interchange between senior executives in business and government. Says Grandy: “My colleague and I are making every effort to contribute constructively to the objectives of this policy.”

The controversy over ex-civil servants has overshadowed, for the time being, the issue of conflict of interest involving parliamentarians. In the Speech from the Throne in early 1973, the government, with one eye on the growing Watergate scandal in the United States, promised to introduce long overdue conflict-of-interest rules for MPS and senators. But little progress has been made. In the summer of 1973, the government did produce the so-called “green paper” on conflict of interest. It proposed that MPS and senators be prohibited from 'owning more than 5% of the stock or be an officer or director in a company doing business with the government and be required to disclose all holdings of less than 5% in such a company. The green paper stopped short, however, of recommending full public disclosure of financial assets by MPS and senators, a goal sought by many reformers in the field but usually fought fiercely by people with much to disclose. In the end, the committee, chaired by Liberal MP Rod Blaker, a former Montreal broadcaster, compromised and recommended that all MPS and senators be required to disclose their assets in private to a specially appointed registrar.

The government said it would wait for the Senate committee to report before acting on any recommendations. But the senators didn’t begin studying the matter until last June. Since then, the Senate legal committee, under the chairmanship of H. Carl Goldenberg, the prominent labor mediator, has held eight meetings on the green paper, the last three behind closed doors. Now the issue has been put aside while the committee busies itself with the government’s “peace and security” legislation.

The senators are hung up on the proposal in the green paper which would prohibit them from receiving fees for services

rendered on Parliament Hill or before government boards or tribunals. “The language of the proposal is so offensive that it is difficult to discuss it reasonably,” said Senator George Mcllraith, the former Liberal cabinet minister, during one committee meeting. Added Senator John Laird: “If you make things so rigid that no person wants to become a member of the other place [the House of Commons] or a member of the Senate, then who is going to run the country?” IAN URQUHART