back to top

A Powerful Lobbyist Consulted With The Prime Minister's Office Over Mike Duffy's Talking Points

At the time, Goldy Hyder was registered to lobby the PMO on behalf of major Canadian companies.

Posted on

One of Canada's most powerful lobbyists consulted with top aides to Stephen Harper over talking points for Sen. Mike Duffy amid his growing expense scandal — all while lobbying the Prime Minister's Office on behalf of major corporations, court files show.

hkstrategies.ca

Goldy Hyder, president and CEO of Hill+Knowlton Strategies, coordinated with high-ranking PMO staff in the spring of 2013 while crafting a public statement for the embattled senator.

Hyder also consulted with the PMO on Duffy’s strategy for dealing with the media once his office released the statement.

At the time, Hyder was registered to lobby the PMO on behalf of some of Canada’s biggest companies, including the Athabasca Oil Sands Corporation, SNC-Lavalin Inc., Talisman Energy Inc., and BCE Inc.

ocl-cal.gc.ca

The exchanges between Hyder and former PMO chief of staff Nigel Wright are contained within hundreds of emails made public Wednesday during Wright's first day of testimony at Duffy's trial.

On April 29, 2013, Hyder emailed Wright about crafting a statement in response to a Deloitte audit into Duffy and other senators' spending that was about to become public.

"Just got off phone with him. I believe we'll be fine on the specific issue we discussed. Have got him focused on closing this chapter and focusing on future (doesn't mean media will)," Hyder wrote to Wright's personal email account. "Plan is to draft a statement in response to the report then leave for constituency."

Hyder also referenced discussing a "specific issue," which Wright told PMO staffer Patrick Rogers in a subsequent email was "Mike not looking for any kind of repayment."

On May 1, Hyder again emailed Wright's personal email address with a draft version of the statement. "Any thoughts you have on this are welcome and between us," Hyder told Wright.

"I expect it will be tweaked here and there and a better concluding line likely about getting back to work or something to that effect - I just wanted you to see the content, direction and tone," Hyder wrote.

Wright says the statement is "fine" but suggests specifying that one particular expense claim — a vacation to the tropics — was "claimed 'inadvertently'" because "the optics of claiming while on a Caribbean cruise aren't great."

Two days later, Hyder sent Wright and Rogers a final draft and laid out Duffy's plan on dealing with the media.

"He will be in PEI going about his business as Senator," Hyder wrote. "No news conference but also no back door exits with hand in camera's face. His response to any and all questions is to refer back to the statement and that as far as he is concerned the matter is closed. We have advised against any engagement or taking bait on questions -just stick to statement script."

Hyder concluded by saying Duffy would avoid Ottawa in the months to follow.

Wright responds: "Thank you. This is good, and addresses the issue that I had with the earlier draft. I have no suggestions to make."

Over the next few days, Wright and another PMO staffer continue to discuss changes to the statement provided by Hyder.

The deal, at this point, was that Duffy would stick to a strict set of media lines in exchange for the PMO making the scandal go away. The statement needed to reflect those talking points.

Hyder is last mentioned in the court files the same day the Senate released the audit. Then-Leader of the Government in the Senate Marjory LeBreton asked Wright to "get Duffy to stay away and most importantly avoid any media contact."

Rogers said he would "call Goldy." Minutes later, Woodcock wrote: "I spoke to Duffy. He won't do any media and will stay away from the Chamber today."

UPDATE: According to new emails released Thursday, Duffy reached out to Hyder to "retain him."

"I spoke with Goldy Hyder last evening because Mike Duffy had called Goldy to retain him in connection with what might happen over the next few weeks," Wright told LeBreton in an email dated April 28, 2013.

"We can count on Goldy’s good judgement, which aligns with how we see things unfolding," Wright wrote. "We cannot count on Mike to follow Goldy’s advice, but I am hopeful that getting the same advice from an independent source could keep Mike on an even keel."

LeBreton responded: "I cannot think of a better person to advise Mike."

Hyder told BuzzFeed Canada that neither he nor his firm "was paid by any party in this matter."

He did not respond to questions about how he became involved or whether it was appropriate to work with the PMO on communications materials while registered to lobby them.

Days after the prime minister's former right-hand-man resigned in mid-May, Hyder sung Wright's praises in the Globe and Mail, saying he would "be hard to replace."

Blair Gable / Reuters

"He brought a unique, valued and very timely perspective – given the focus on the economy – to the intersection of business and politics," Hyder is quoted as saying.

"As much as any one person can influence the policy directions of a prime minister and a government, Nigel Wright was perhaps the most impactful prime minister's chiefs of staff we have seen in some time."

Emma Loop is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Emma Loop at emma.loop@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.