Barrick Gold and Visa hired former advisers to Harper gov’t

Companies taking advantage of “20 per cent” loophole: NDP

Corporations like Barrick Gold and Visa Canada both hired former government staffers to act as lobbyists last year, despite a 2006 law that aimed to end such political influence. The New Democrats say that’s because a loophole exists that allows politicians and ministerial staff to advise corporations so long as they spend less than 20 per cent of their time doing so. For example, Alanna Heath, a former adviser to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, was hired to advise Barrick Gold last year but wasn’t required to register as a lobbyist because of the loophole. (Heath was paid to help stop a bill that would have required the government to probe alleged human-rights abuses by Canadian mining companies in other countries.) NDP MP Pat Martin tells Bloomberg News the hirings violate “the spirit of the law.”