TESFANEWS has learned that a human rights lawyer retained by the Hidmonna Eritrean-Canadian Human Rights Group Inc. is being investigated for allegedly failing to register as a lobbyist after a complaint was filed under Canada’s federal Lobbying Act.
Earlier this month, The Winnipeg Free Press reported that David Matas met privately with Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander to press him on issues related to Eritrea. Mr. Matas’s alleged lobbying activities also include lobbying the federal government to shut down the Eritrean consulate in Toronto.
Lobbyists are required by law to be registered if they undertake to communicate with, or arrange a meeting with, a federal public office holder on behalf of a client. Mr. Matas is senior legal counsel for B’Nai Brith Canada and a former Stephen Harper appointment to the controversial Rights and Democracy Board. He has maintained a private practice which is used to advocate on behalf of various human rights and political causes.
Results of the investigation could see Matas’ file referred to the RCMP with the potential of fines and jail time for failing to register before lobbying the government.
Last year, a former Conservative aide Andrew Skaling was fined $7,500 after pleading guilty to having failed to file the necessary paperwork after he was brought on board to help a non-profit group seek federal funding for it’s programs.
Matas could be cleared under the lobbying rules if the results of the probe reveal he was not being paid for his activities or was not trying to influence federal ministries on behalf of his clients.
Currently there are more than 5,200 lobbyists registered with the lobbying commissioner’s office. Each has to file monthly reports detailing scheduled meetings with public office-holders including ministers, MPs, senators, members of the RCMP and political staff.
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Also Read: David Matas and the Case of Human Rights Hypocrisy
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