Fredericton — Donald Arseneault admitted today that he has been caught publicly lobbying himself during a visit to Ottawa last week. In a contrite press scrum, the former minister admitted that he had recently wined and dined himself while making overtures on behalf of his clients.
This news comes on the heels of a CBC report revealing that Arseneault is working both as a Member of the Legislative Assembly and as an Ottawa lobbyist for the Canada’s Building Trades Unions association. He is exploiting a loophole that prevents an MLA from acting as a lobbyist for one year after leaving office, by doing the job while still holding an elected public office.
“No one ever thought of that, did they? Bazinga!” smiled a smug Arseneault during a press briefing. “I’m getting around the ‘cooling off’ period by not chilling out — I’m red-hot, baby! I’m taking all comers, get in line to work with Donnie!”
After calming down a bit, Arseneault recounted the night he crossed the line with his lobbying efforts. “I was sitting there in that swanky Ottawa restaurant — and I was looking pretty cute I must say — and I just couldn’t resist myself. I ordered myself the steak and lobster and after several drinks…I just started going to town, lobbying myself right there.”
Arseneault, a cabinet minister in two Liberal governments, was first elected in 2003. He spent almost 8 years as a cabinet minister earning over $130,000 per year plus expenses. The former deputy premier also earned paycheques over $85,000 plus expenses per annum during his non-cabinet years. After being shuffled out of cabinet last month, Arseneault says he needed the supplementary income from lobbying.
“I just couldn’t go back to only $85k per year! Donnie has a lifestyle to which he’s become accustomed,” Arseneault said, again referring to himself in the third person. “Those side-by-side ATV payments aren’t going to make themselves.”
Premier Brian Gallant did not seem fazed by the admission. “We live in a gig economy, particularly in New Brunswick. A lot of people don’t know this but I was a Chippendales dancer for a while to help pay my way through law school. You need to do what you can to make ends meet.”