PHOTOS: Sour grapes! Actual former Alberta trade representatives may not appear exactly as illustrated. (Photo from Barkpost.com.) Below: Alberta Conservative-connected lobbyists Rob Merrifield, Hal Danchilla, Brian Storseth and Rick Orman.
Rob Merrifield’s parting shot at the Alberta government: tacky.
Canadian Strategy Group’s decision to hire Mr. Merrifield as a lobbyist: Um, are you sure you’re doing it right?
Well, Mr. Merrifield said he was “concerned that this government is pulling resources and sending mixed messages at a critical time,” but since the only not-so-vital resource being pulled that day was his own self, the complaints of the outgoing Alberta trade ‘envoy’ had a whiff of sour grapes to many observers.
Any of us can empathize a little with Mr. Merrifield in the knowledge it always smarts to be handed your walking papers, even when the dismissal is justified. But when the unthinkable happened and Alberta’s permanent governing party lost the people’s mandate to run the province on May 5, it should have been pretty obvious to the provincial pipeline lobbyist that the nice sinecure in the Imperial Capital Mr. Prentice gave him last year would soon disappear under an NDP government.
A graceful departure would have benefitted his reputation as well as the province he had been generously paid to serve.
When he chose instead to depart in a miasma of vinegar, NDP Premier Rachel Notley’s office slammed the door on his retreating backside: “The government thanks Mr. Merrifield for his service,” said the government’s brief and acerbic statement. “We are looking to replace Mr. Merrifield with a professional diplomat, for reasons Mr. Merrifield has just demonstrated.” (Emphasis added.) “Alberta’s office in Washington is very important to our government. It continues to operate and we will be announcing a new representative soon.”
The firm, founded and run by Tory stalwart Hal Danchilla, has a long history of close ties to Alberta PC governments. Mr. Danchilla’s own company biography lists a long list of services to the political right, including acting as chief of staff to several provincial Tory ministers, key roles in various PC government communications strategies, core involvement in the leadership campaigns of such provincial and federal conservatives as Don Getty, Ralph Klein, Jim Dinning and Stockwell Day, and central roles in at least two federal Conservative campaigns.
Four months ago, CSG made a stab at generating a little Dipper credibility by hiring Moe Sihota, a former NDP cabinet minister from British Columbia, and Ken Georgetti, a recently un-elected president of the Canadian Labour Congress from the same province by way of Ottawa, as senior counsel. Both were controversial figures in NDP circles and neither was particularly well known or esteemed among Alberta New Democrats.
Now, with Mr. Merrifield, GSC has … another Conservative.
For those of you who wondered, Mr. Merrifield’s departure from his Washington job, regardless of the reasons he appealed to Mr. Prentice, does not appear to require a cooling off period under the Alberta Accountability Act before he takes up work as a lobbyist because he was officially neither a political staffer nor senior enough a civil servant.
Regardless, given his remarks on Wednesday, if CSG expects Mr. Merrifield to successfully lobby the current Alberta Government, it may be in for a disappointment.
On the other hand, the company could very well have something else in mind – or may just be helping out an old friend in his hour of need.
This post also appears on Rabble.ca.