Americas, Business & trade, Energy, New in Lobbying

Canada’s Alberta hires lobby firm amid twin trade threats from Trump, Biden

The energy-rich province of Alberta has hired a Canadian lobby shop to tackle twin economic threats from President Donald Trump and former Vice-President Joe Biden.

Crestview Strategy signed a $5,000-per-month contract for congressional lobbying with Alberta’s senior representative to the US, James Rajotte. The contract started Aug. 1 and runs for three months.

“We understand that the core issues of importance to the province include energy and environmental policy; trade issues including food and agriculture; infrastructure and ‘Buy American’ proposals; and investment issues,” Crestview’s managing director for the US Maryscott Greenwood wrote in the filing. Greenwood is the only registered agent on the account.

Crestview Strategy filing with the US Department of Justice

The contract comes as Alberta faces multiple challenges in its economic relationship with the United States, its largest trading partner by far.

The province is a part-owner of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline between the province’s oil sands and refineries in Illinois and Texas. Trump overrode the Barack Obama administration’s opposition to the $8 billion project on environmental grounds in 2017, but Biden’s campaign has vowed to rescind the permit if he is elected president.

While Trump is an ally on the pipeline, his ‘America First’ approach to trade could pose a threat to other sectors of Alberta’s economy, notably agriculture. In May, the US president mulled “terminating” trade deals that allow beef exports to the US — a policy that would especially impact Canada and Mexico.

And on Aug. 6 the US president reinstated a 10 % tariff on Canadian aluminium, just one month after the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) went into effect. Canada immediately retaliated, sparking concerns of a return to the trade fight that almost scuttled the USMCA negotiations.

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It’s with that backdrop in mind that Alberta sent Rajotte south of the border in April. A former conservative member of parliament, he was part of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group for 10 years.

“I have a lot of relationships existing with senators, with members of the House of Representatives. So, I’ll certainly renew those and strengthen those and build on those to advocate for our interests,” Rajotte told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). “It’s a challenge, always, to get their attention. But I’m very confident I can do that, both at the national level and at the state level.”

“I have a lot of relationships existing with senators, with members of the House of Representatives. So, I’ll certainly renew those and strengthen those and build on those to advocate for our interests.”

Alberta representative to the US James Rajotte

Crestview is Rajotte’s first hire since taking his new job. The firm, headquartered in Ottawa, expanded to Washington in June 2019. This is its first registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (the firm has represented the Canadian American Business Council on trade issues since September 2019 under the domestic Lobbying Disclosure Act and registered for beleaguered cruise company Carnival in May 2020).

Greenwood, the firm’s Washington director, is a former chief of staff for the US Embassy in Canada and currently serves as CEO of the Canadian American Business Council. In collaboration with Quebec’s delegate-general in New York, Catherine Loubier, she recently launched North American Rebound, an initiative designed to unite businesses on both sides of the border against protectionist measures such as the aluminium tariff.