The lobby bot data from February 2023 is in – and it was a busy month for fossil fuel lobbyists determined to weaken climate change policy.
Oil and gas industry lobbyists met with federal government officials a minimum of 91 times in February (and that only includes the meetings that get tracked. Most don’t.) That’s four to five times per working day that government officials took meetings from an industry trying to delay climate action and get more subsidies, all in the name of making more money.
Five fossil companies and associations are tied in first place for the most meetings held in February: Cenovus, ConocoPhillips, Irving Oil, TC Energy and the Pathways Alliance (a group of the major tarsands players).
Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, and his staff spent a lot of the month meeting with these companies. His department took 24 meetings in total, six of which were with the Minister directly.
February was the month before the federal budget was announced, and there was a shift in how many meetings Finance Canada took: at least 16 in February, up from two in January. That’s almost a meeting per day, from the department in charge of deciding who gets what money. And it paid off – the false solutions being touted by the oil and gas industry, hydrogen and carbon capture, got a lot of money in the budget.
Here are the other highlights from the month.
WHO LOBBIED THE MOST
The companies that held the most lobbying meetings with the federal government in January 2023 were:
- Cenovus, ConocoPhillips, Irving Oil, TC Energy and the Pathways Alliance, all with 9 meetings
WHICH MINISTRIES WERE LOBBIED THE MOST
The federal bodies which took the most meetings with oil & gas companies and associations were the following Ministries:
- Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), took 24 meetings
- Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), took 19 meetings
- Finance Canada, took 16 meetings
WHICH MINISTER WAS LOBBIED THE MOST
These federal ministers took the most meetings with oil & gas companies and associations:
- Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, took 6 meetings
- Stephen Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada; Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance; and Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance, Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Labour; and Marc Miller, Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations each took 1 meeting
WHY THESE NUMBERS MATTER
Politicians and Ministry staff don’t have to take these meetings, but they choose to hear from fossil fuel lobbyists.
The numbers here are under-counts because, while we are tracking over 50 companies and lobby associations, there are even more companies which may engage in lobbying.
In addition, not all meetings and communications that we might consider to be “lobbying” are required to be disclosed, because of huge loopholes in the federal lobbying law. Lobbyists are only required to register and disclose their lobbying if they are paid on a contract to lobby or are lobbying more than 20 percent of their work time for a business or organization. As well, lobbying about the enforcement of a law or regulation, or about tax credits, which many oil and gas companies lobby for, is not required to be disclosed. Lastly, when lobbyists are invited to speak to decision-makers, those meetings don’t need to be disclosed. We know that departments have set up standing meetings with many of the fossil fuel lobbyists – those don’t show up in the registry.
Environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs), such as Environmental Defence, lobby, but do so in the public interest, not in the private interest, as oil and gas companies do. ENGOs are granted far less access to key government decision-makers.
We need to tell politicians to stand firm on the need for strong climate action – and stop caving in to big oil. Take action today and tell the federal government to put the interest of the people in Canada ahead of the narrow self-interest of oil and gas companies.
Until next month’s update, follow the lobby bot on Twitter here.