On July 25, 2012, the Government of Ontario announced proposed changes to the Lobbyists Registration Act, 1998 (Ontario). This follows the Ontario Integrity Commissioner’s call for a review of the existing legislation. The Commissioner, who concurrently serves as the Lobbyist Registrar of Ontario and is responsible for the administration of the Act, issued several recommendations in her report of May 24, 2012. Some of the Commissioner’s proposals have been incorporated into the government’s proposed amendments. Further, the government has proposed changes to the Cabinet Ministers' and Opposition Leaders' Expenses Review and Accountability Act, 2002 (Ontario).
The proposed changes include:
- Giving the Integrity Commissioner more enforcement powers, including the ability to prohibit individuals from lobbying.
- Giving the Integrity Commissioner new investigative powers, including the ability to compel testimony and obtain key documents.
- Requiring lobbyists to identify the specific MPP and Ministers' Offices they lobby.
- Preventing lobbyists from accepting additional fees for preferred outcomes.
- Prohibiting lobbyists from providing paid advice to a ministry and lobbying on the same subject matter.
- Providing the Integrity Commissioner with the ability to establish a lobbyist code of conduct.
- Incorporating for‐profit and not‐for‐profit organizations under the same category of 'inhouse' lobbyists, treating both classes of lobbyists the same and capturing more lobbying activity.
- Requiring opposition leaders and their staff to make their expense information available to the public. This is currently the case for Ministers and their staff.
The proposed changes will require legislative review, complete with committee study, witnesses, and stakeholder input. The government intends to table the proposed amendments when the legislative assembly resumes in the fall.