An insurance lobby group says it was the subject of two “angry” phone calls from Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s office aimed at blocking it from raising privacy concerns over new measures in the budget bill related to how banks use customer data.
In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Normand Lafrenière, president of the Canadian Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, said the first call came on April 12 from the Finance Minister’s senior policy adviser, Ian Foucher.
“I was asked not to meet with MPs and senators,” said Mr. Lafrenière, who has led the organization for 25 years after a public-service career that included senior positions at the Finance Department.
The 556-page omnibus budget bill would add new language to the Bank Act’s financial technology section that would allow banks to engage in “collecting, manipulating and transmitting information … selling and otherwise dealing with technology if those activities relate to … the provision of financial services by another entity.”
Mr. Lafrenière’s organization says the provision would allow banks to sell customers’ data to unregulated companies. Those firms could then target potential customers, including those of regulated insurance companies, in unprecedented ways. The government disagrees, but some senators still have concerns. The association was scheduled to meet with the Senate banking committee on May 3 about the changes.
Mr. Lafrenière and Steve Masnyk, principal of SkyBridge Strategies, a consultant for the insurance group, rejected the staffer’s advice, met privately with some MPs and senators, and decided to go ahead with the May 3 appearance. Mr. Masnyk said he received a 30-minute call from Mr. Foucher the evening before.
“He was repeating the same thing … over and over and over. He said: ‘Are you going to play…