REFILE-UPDATE 1-Canada Liberal campaign co-chair resigns over pipeline advice

Wed Oct 14, 2015 8:27pm EDT
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(Removes extraneous words in first, sixth paragraphs)

By Randall Palmer

AJAX, Ontario Oct 14 (Reuters) - A co-chair of Canada's Liberal election campaign, Dan Gagnier, resigned his position on Wednesday after news emerged that he had advised TransCanada Corp on how to lobby the next government after the Oct. 19 election.

TransCanada is trying to win approval for its Energy East oil pipeline across the country, and The Canadian Press reported on Wednesday on a detailed email Gagnier sent on Monday to TransCanada officials on how to lobby a new government, possibly Liberal, on energy projects.

"In order to avoid becoming a distraction to the campaign, I have decided to take a step back from my responsibilities to the Liberal campaign," Gagnier said in a statement distributed by the Liberal campaign.

"I deeply regret that the campaign has been affected by these negative, personal attacks. I have always conducted my business openly and in full accordance with the rules. In the best interests of the party, I have taken this decision."

It was bad news for Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, currently campaigning in Ontario, as he tries to capitalize on a surge in support that has vaulted him into first place in the polls with less than a week before the election.

Gagnier is a political veteran, having served as chief of staff separately to the premiers of Ontario and Quebec over the last decades, and served as campaign co-chair on a volunteer basis. He had sometimes accompanied Trudeau.

TransCanada is one of his clients as a consultant, and the CP story said he advised it to target the right people in a new government quickly so they can help shape either Liberal or New Democratic Party (NDP) decisions on a national energy strategy.   Continued...