The provinces of Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia recently introduced changes to their respective lobbying legislation.
Bill 615, The Lobbyists Amendment Act, 2019 (Bill 615) was introduced on March 7, 2019 in the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan and proposes various amendments to The Lobbyists Act.
Notably, Bill 615 proposes to entirely remove the threshold for in-house lobbyist registration. Like consultant lobbyists, in-house lobbyists would be required to register as lobbying upon the occurrence of the lobbying and would no longer have the benefit of waiting until they met the current 100-hour registration threshold. Bill 615 also proposes to remove the power to make regulations respecting such a threshold. Currently, all lobbying legislation in Canada prescribes a registration threshold for in-house lobbyists. As such, if Bill 615 were passed, Saskatchewan would be the only Canadian jurisdiction where in-house lobbyists are treated like consultant lobbyists for the purpose of registration.
In addition, Bill 615 proposes to add a prohibition under The Lobbyists Act that would restrict public office holders from accepting a gift, except where the gift is given to a member of the legislative assembly in accordance with the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act. A gift for this purpose would include a fee, gift or personal benefit, except compensation authorized by law, that is connected directly or indirectly with the performance of the member’s duties of office.
Bill 114, The Lobbyists’ Registration Act (amended) (Bill 114), was introduced in the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia on March 14, 2019 and proposed various amendments to The Lobbyists’ Registration Act. Among these amendments, Bill 114 proposes to amend the definition of lobbying by clarifying that it includes oral and arranged communication.
Bill 114 also proposes to amend the information that consultant lobbyists, in-house lobbyists and organizations using in-house lobbyists are required to disclose by requiring that the returns for such entities disclose the names of every public office holder they have lobbied, the dates and means by which lobbying occurred and the nature of issues discussed with the public office holder. This will increase transparency and accountability in the province’s lobbying regulations.