Last month the blog published an article about Friends of Billy Bishop (FoBB). The article tied the organization to Ari Laskin and his company Global Strategic Consulting (GSC) and asked if FoBB shouldn’t be registered with the City of Toronto lobbyist registry.
The article also mentions one of GSC’s offerings: Grassroots Campaign Services. Citing the importance of social media in grassroots initiatives and grassroots initiatives as government policy drivers, GSC offers to “harness the passion of grassroots advocates.”
In the case of FFoB and the airport expansion, some of GSC’s grassroots advocates, whose passion needs harnessing, seem to have a vested interest.
Who are some of these passionate advocates?
Judging by FoBB their associations, Troy Gonsalves and Alex Blumenstein and Michael Diamond are three such grassroots adherents.
Mr. Gonsalves, seen here, first one on the left, works for Porter Airlines.
Mr. Blumenstein is a partner in Active/Engage. He lists his Conservative connections on his Linkedin page.
Mr. Diamond is Mr. Blumenstein’s partner in Active/Engage. Mr. Diamond’s Linkedin page also lists his Conservative bona fides.
As its website says, “Active/Engage specializes in grassroots engagement and community organization.”
Mr. Blumenstein and Mr. Diamond can connect clients who need their causes and/or organizations with decision-makers and so make the clients’ voices heard. Is this not similar to lobbying?
Birds of a Feather?
On July 30, 2015, the three amigos convened on the waterfront.
The pamphlets in the hands of Mr. Gonsalves (on the left) and Mr. Diamond (on the right) bear the imprint of the FoBB’s Paddle On, Friends promotion piece.
It appears that Mr. Blumentsein, Active/Engage consultant, has other grassroots activities which include a trip to see the Bombardier C Series at Mirabel.
For whatever reason, FoBB thought Mr. Blumentsein’s message worthy enough to retweet the information to their 747 (no kidding) followers.
As for Mr. Gonsalves, his duty as a Porter employee also takes him to Mirabel, coincidentally on the same day as Mr. Blumentein. Oh to be a fly on the fuselage!
And what about the Conservative connections that Mr. Blumenstein and Mr. Diamond feature in their resumes? Do they perhaps extend to Conservative government transport minister Lisa Raitt?
Lisa Raitt, Transport Minister and Robert Deluce, Porter CEO and President go back over a decade
And who but Porter Arline’s president and CEO Robert Deluce is more likely to benefit from the grassroots activities of Active/Engage and GSC?
And where is the line between a genuine grassroots movement and one provided by consultants who advertise their wares for financial gain?
Friends of Billy Bishop indeed.