The Alberta Lobbyists Act ("Act"), related regulations and registry will come into force on September 28, 2009. The Lobbyists Act imposes obligations on lobbyists in Alberta, including requiring those who are paid to lobby to register as lobbyists. The Lobbyists Act General Regulation addresses administrative and operational matters necessary to facilitate operation of the registry. This registry will also go live on September 28, 2009. The lobbyist registry will contain the names of individuals who are paid to communicate with public office holders in an attempt to influence government decisions about the development or amendment of a law, government program, policy, or the awarding of government grants. The online, searchable index of government accounts paid will list individuals and organizations who have contracts with government or who are receiving government grants. Under the Act there are two kinds of lobbyists:
- organizational lobbyists, who work on behalf of organizations, and lobby the government as part of their jobs, and;
- consultant lobbyists, who are paid to lobby on a specific issue on behalf of their clients.
Unpaid volunteers are not required to register as lobbyists. However, volunteers who receive a stipend or honorarium for their work may be required to register if they work for not-for-profit organizations that service industry, unions or professional interests.
Lobbying is considered communicating with a provincial government official (for example, an MLA or a government employee) to try to influence a government decision. Lobbying may include:
- telephone calls
- letter writing
- face-to-face conversations
Talking to your MLA isn't considered lobbying, unless the conversation is about passing a private bill for your own benefit. Neither is talking to your MLA or a government employee about how existing legislation applies to you or an organization.
Some corporations employ people who spend most of their time doing work outside of lobbying, but may once in a while meet or speak with decision makers. Like other jurisdictions, the Government of Alberta has established a threshold under which those who work for organizations can lobby without being subject to the Act. In Alberta, that threshold will be 100 hours annually per organization. Boiled down, that means employees or directors of an organization can lobby for a combined total of 100 hours annually without having to register. It is the responsibility of the head of the organization to register all paid employee lobbyists. Please note: if an organization hires a consultant lobbyist, the consultant must register as lobbyist independently of the organization.
Currently, there are five provinces across Canada with lobbyist legislation in place: Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador (which includes some municipalities) and Nova Scotia. In addition, the City of Toronto has a comprehensive lobbyist registration by-law.
Link to Alberta Act and amendments:
Lobbyists Amendment Act, 2009: http://www.qp.alberta.ca/574.cfm?page=2009ch05_unpr.cfm&leg_type=Acts&isbncln=9780779740116
Lobbyists Act General Regulation: http://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/orders/orders_in_council/2009/909/2009_478.html