RETA Executive Director Responds to Sherwood Park Independent
The Sherwood Park Independent ran an editorial last week criticizing RETA for hiring Garnett Genuis as our Executive Director. The editorial said that this amounted to a ‘marriage’ between RETA and Wildrose and was a ‘conflict of interest’ because RETA is a ‘lobbyist’. Because the Independent is not available online, we can’t post the original piece here. This week, the Independent published a response from our Executive Director:
“I always enjoy reading Jim’s views on different issues, but I do want to correct the record on some of the issues he addressed in last week’s editorial about me. Jim suggested that it was inappropriate for me, as the Wildrose Party candidate, to also work for RETA, an organization which opposes the Heartland Transmission Project.
Unless they are independently wealthy, most candidates seeking public office need to also be employed. Since my background is in politics and public affairs, it is quite natural that I would work for an advocacy organization like RETA at this stage before the election has even begun. If I am successful and become the MLA, I will obviously stop working for RETA at that point. I agree with Jim that an MLA must be the MLA for everyone, but there is nothing wrong with a candidate being employed with an advocacy organization before they have the power that comes with holding elected office.
I’ll also note that there is a big difference between public advocacy and lobbying. (I know because I use to work for the federal industry minister and was periodically contacted by lobbyists). RETA is a public advocacy organization that speaks on behalf of citizens and seeks to raise public awareness. There is no requirement for me to register as a lobbyist because I am not a lobbyist and never have been.
What’s actually going on here is that, as a resident of Sherwood Park, I feel passionately about the need to stop the overhead Heartland Line from going through. That is one of the key reasons why I decided to run for Wildrose in this election. When given the opportunity to join RETA’s team, I had another opportunity to advocate for the people of Sherwood Park on an issue that I feel passionately about. There is nothing inappropriate or unsavoury about advocating for the interests of members of this community whose concerns have been ignored by the government.”
One additional comment about the Sherwood Park Independent is worth making. Its publisher (Jim Ford) is a long time PC activist – this week’s edition of the paper also touts his extensive involvement with the PC party. (“I have performed several decades of federal and provincial Progressive Conservative involvement”). Jim is a nice fellow, but he should acknowledge that his involvement with the PC party may be part of the reason why he opposes the work that RETA is doing.