The Treasury Board Secretariat has posted two proposed changes to regulations today. This starts a 30 day consultation period following which the regulations may be officially enacted and brought into force together with the statutory amendments to the Lobbyist Registration Act itself. This Special Bulletin contains Gowlings summary of the proposed changes, and is followed by the full text of today’s Press Release by the President of the Treasury Board.

Gowlings Comments:

Lobbyists Registration Regulations

The proposed amendments to the Lobbyists Registration Regulations set the form and manner in which lobbyists must file required returns, which disclose information regarding their lobbying activities. They also set out certain additional information to be disclosed in returns, beyond what is required in the Act. They set the time frames to respond to a request by the Commissioner for correction or clarification of information submitted in returns. These Regulations also describe the type of communication that will trigger monthly returns. Changes to the Lobbyists Registration Regulations include: 

  • in general all filings must now be electronic; 
  • the Regulations will provide for two distinct forms for in-house lobbyists (corporation) and in-house lobbyists (organization) in addition to the form for consultant lobbyists; 
  • individuals who are subject to the five-year ban indicate in the return whether they have been granted an exemption from the Commissioner or whether the ban does not apply to them for other reasons, such information will appear in the Public Registry; 
  • the names of employees and senior officers that lobby as a significant part of their duties (currently interpreted to mean 20% or more) be listed separately from the names of senior officers who lobby for less than a significant part; 
  • the Regulations will require consultant lobbyists to disclose in their returns whether they are lobbying on behalf of a corporation of which they are a member of the Board of Directors or on behalf of an organization of which they are a member of the organization or of its Board of Directors; 
  • consultant lobbyists will be asked to indicate the date that they entered into an undertaking and the date the undertaking was terminated. Similarly corporations and organizations whose employees lobby will be asked the date on which the requirement to file a return arose and ended; 
  • consultant lobbyists will be asked to certify that the payment for the undertaking for which they are filing a return respects the prohibition on contingency fee payments; 
  • all three types of lobbyists will be required to file additional returns regarding prescribed types of communication with designated public office holders on a monthly basis. In this connection, the Regulations will prescribe the types of communication as oral and arranged communication excluding oral and arranged communication initiated by public office holders related to the development of policy, programs or legislation. Oral and arranged communications relating to contracts and financial benefits will need to be reported even when initiated by public office holders. For the prescribed types of communication, the new monthly returns require all three types of lobbyists to disclose the name, title and department of each designated public office holder with whom they have communicated, the date of the communication and the subject matter of the communication;
  • individuals will have a time limit of 30 days to respond to the Commissioner's request for clarification of information.

Designated Public Office Holder Regulations

The proposed Designated Public Office Holder Regulations would prescribe various positions in the Canadian Forces and the Privy Council Office, as well as the Comptroller General of Canada, so that the persons occupying these positions would be included as "designated public office holders" under the Lobbying Act (which is what the current Lobbyists Registration Act will be renamed as). The legislation designates all those occupying the position of Assistant Deputy Minister and above already. Communications with this category of public office holder triggers what will become a new and monthly duty to file detailed reports as set out above

Government of Canada Publishes New Rules for Lobbyists

For immediate release

January 04, 2008

Ottawa - The Honourable Vic Toews, President of the Treasury Board, today announced the prepublication of regulations necessary for the coming into force of the Lobbying Act, delivering on one of the key components of the Federal Accountability Act.

"Cleaning up lobbying is a key commitment within the Federal Accountability Act. It is essential to have clear rules to ensure lobbying is done ethically and transparently," Minister Toews said. "While interacting and advocating with government is legitimate, it is important that lobbyists have clear reporting responsibilities. At the same time, Canadians must have access to information about who is lobbying public-office holders and in what context. The proposed regulations deliver on both these imperatives," added Minister Toews.

The proposed regulations set out the administrative measures necessary for lobbyists to comply with the new registration requirements under the Lobbying Act, including the types of lobbying communications that must be registered in monthly returns.

An additional set of regulations prescribe certain positions, including those in the Canadian Forces and the Privy Council Office, as being occupied by designated public office holders under the Lobbying Act. Officials occupying these positions will join hundreds of others already included under the new Lobbying Act provisions. The new regulatory and statutory provisions on lobbying will be administered by the new Commissioner of Lobbying upon coming into force.

The changes brought by the Lobbying Act will give the new Commissioner of Lobbying the independence and necessary powers to ensure that lobbying is done in a transparent and ethical way.

Furthermore, Canadians will have easy access, through the Internet, to information about lobbying activities. They will be reassured that former senior public officials do not use their personal connections to obtain special favours from government once they leave office, and that conflict of interest situations do not arise while they hold office.

This announcement is part of the implementation of the Federal Accountability Act. Through the Federal Accountability Act and its accompanying Action Plan, the Government of Canada has brought forward specific measures to strengthen accountability in government. More information on the Federal Accountability Act and Action Plan is available at www.accountability.gc.ca.

Regulations are published in the Canada Gazette in two parts. The prepublication of the regulations in Part I constitutes the consultation process for the proposed regulations. It is through Part I that Canadians have a chance to submit their comments on proposed regulations before they are enacted. Once the final regulations have received approval by the Governor in Council, they will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

The proposed regulations necessary for the coming into force of the Lobbying Act are available on the Canada Gazette Web site at  www.canadagazette.gc.ca.