The Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics Presents a Report on the Statutory Review of the Lobbying Act

Government Relations Institute of Canada Press Release, May 14, 2012

The Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics has tabled its report on the Statutory Review of the Lobbying Act (see News Release and PDF copy of report). Below is a summary of the recommendations and the NDP’s contribution. Many of the committee’s recommendations reflect positions advanced by GRIC in its submission and its appearance on February 2nd. Additional analysis will follow later this week.
Summary of Statutory Review of the Lobbying Act.

Overview

  • The committee found that the overall tenor of the testimony suggested that the Act is generally working well in accordance with its objectives.
  • The Lobbying Commissioner submitted a list of nine recommendations to the committee in anticipation of this review. The committee decided to endorse four of those recommendations. Those recommendations are number 2, 4,5 and 11 below.

Recommendations by the committee:

  1. All public servants serving in a Director General’s position, or serving in a more senior position than Director General, should now be considered Designated Public Office Holders and held subject to all applicable laws governing this designation.
  2. Remove the “significant part of duties” threshold for in-house lobbyists.
  3. Eliminate the distinction between in-house lobbyists (corporations) and in-house lobbyists (organizations).
  4. Require in-house lobbyists to file a registration, along with the senior officer of the company or organization.
  5. Ensure that monthly communications reports contain the names of all in-house lobbyists who attended oral pre-arranged meetings [in addition to the senior reporting officer].
  6. Allow board members (corporation and association directors), partners and sole proprietors to be included in an in-house lobbyist’s returns.
  7. Impose an explicit ban on the receipt of gifts from lobbyists.
  8. Prohibit an individual or entity from lobbying the government on a subject matter, if they have a contract to provide advice to a public office holder on the same subject matter.
  9. The five-year ban should be retained, and post-employment restrictions on public office holders should be interpreted and administered by a single authority.
  10. Enshrine the administrative review process in the Act.
  11. Empower the Commissioner of Lobbying to impose administrative monetary penalties. Perhaps consider temporary bans for breaches of the law (as in the Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec provincial legislation).

NDP Supplemental Recommendations:

  • The NDP supported the recommendations put forth by the committee but also submitted the following changes they would like to see made.
  • The Lobbying Commissioner must be empowered to continue investigations that have been handed over to the RCMP.
  • Consultant lobbyists must report the ultimate client of their lobbying in their monthly communications reports, not the firm for which they work.
  • Enshrine immunity provisions for the Commissioner of Lobbying and her delegates as found in Sections 18.1 and 2 of the Auditor-General Act and other Acts.
  • The Commissioner of Lobbying must retain a formal mandate to educate lobbyists, public office holders, and the public about the Canada’s lobbying rules and regulations.
  • A list of all DPOHs must be maintained online by the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying so as to avoid any confusion.