Former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper apparently isn't satisfied with having destroyed a lot of wonderful and important things in Canada. Now he has signed on with Dentons, the world's largest elite law firm, to spread his viewpoints around the globe.
Dentons proudly announced Monday that Harper -- who does not have a legal degree -- and his new consulting company will work from its Calgary office.
For Harper, the appointment is his reward from the corporate set for many years of stalwart service. He will now be able to stuff his pockets with greenbacks and 76-cent Canadian dollars.
The recently resigned Calgary MP will no doubt stick a Canadian flag on his suitcase as he peddles his anti-social ideology. Hopefully, this will be Harper's final insult to our national pride.
Dentons is like an octopus. It has more than 7,200 lawyers in over 50 countries, and seems to be constantly expanding.
The firm announced that Harper has teamed up with the firm to provide clients with "advice on market access, managing global geopolitical and economic risk, and maximize value in global markets." Roughly translated, Harper will be peddling himself based on the credibility he gained during nine years as PM.
The Donald Trump of the legal set
"Dentons is the Donald Trump of the legal vertical," writes legal expert and columnist Mark A. Cohen. "The firm is brash, bigger-than-life, and something entirely different. It receives a disproportionate amount of press because it is always doing something that drops jaws."
The firm surprised the legal and business worlds by forming a partnership with a huge Chinese firm closely tied to the Communist Party. It isn't fussy about which companies it represents in litigation either. It works for Wal-Mart, Monsanto, Citigroup, Duke Energy, Bank of America, Barclay's Bank, Wells Fargo and others.
The firm also has a penchant for buying former politicians. Former Liberal PM Jean Chretien and former Manitoba Premier Gary Doer are also on the Dentons payroll, as is former Harper Cabinet Minister James Moore. Last year, Dentons snapped up controversial U.S. former politicians Newt Gingrich.
Outrageous move by Harper
It is outrageous that a former Prime Minister is able to join a massive, influential international corporation such as Dentons when his seat in Parliament has barely cooled.
Dentons is deeply involved in all kinds of wheeling and dealing at the highest levels around the world. Part of its success is based on collecting inside information on corporations and governments.
There are few legal constraints for Harper in his new job. Canada's Lobbying Act prevents Harper from being directly involved in lobbying the Canadian government for five years.
In addition, the Conflict of Interest Act says that "no former public office holder shall give advice to his or her client, business associate or employer using information that was obtained in his or her capacity as a public office holder and is not available to the public."
Having been Prime Minister for nine years, Harper is aware of what is supposed to be confidential information concerning corporations in Canada and what are supposed to be secret arrangements among foreign governments. Harper will claim he will not reveal privileged information, but there is no way of knowing how he will be able to separate Harper the consultant from Harper the former PM -- or whether he will keep his word.
Former PM a valuable asset
Harper will be a medium-sized fish at Dentons, but he can help the firm in countries where he has good relations with government leaders.
Given Harper's record of spending little money on fighting climate change, he could work with government clients on how to avoid spending millions on carbon reductions and he probably could help corporate clients avoid carbon penalties.
Instead of marketing his skills through Dentons, it would have been more appropriate for Harper to get involved in academia. He would have been welcomed at the University of Calgary, where a group of professors and some students established the influential right-wing "Calgary school."
It's not like Harper needs the money. Currently 57, he is receiving $127,000 in annual pension payments. When he turns 60, the amount will increase to $134,000 per year. The Canadian Tax Federation says that Harper's MP pension pay would add up to roughly $5.5 million up to age 90 (factoring in for inflationary increases to the payments).
Nick Fillmore is a Toronto freelance journalist and a frequent contributor to rabble.ca. He says he never voted for Stephen Harper. Please visit his blog to read other stories. nickfillmore.blogspot.com.
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