Communicating with Designated Public Office Holders

Purpose of Bulletin

This interpretation bulletin is issued by the Commissioner under the authority of subsection 10(1) of the Lobbying Act (hereafter "the Act"). Its purpose is to provide the Commissioner's interpretation of the requirement found in subsection 5(3) for consultant lobbyists and subsection 7(4) for in-house lobbyists employed by corporations or organizations, to file a monthly return when oral and arranged communication has occurred between the lobbyist and a designated public office holder.

Background and Legislative Context

The Federal Accountability Act (S.C. 2006, c.9) made a number of amendments to the Lobbyists Registration Act, including renaming it the Lobbying Act and introducing the term "designated public office holder" (DPOH). Along with the Designated Public Office Holder Regulations, the Act designates a number of senior public officials as DPOHs (see below for details). The Act also introduced the requirement to file a monthly return for oral and arranged meetings between a lobbyist and a designated public office holder.

Who is a designated public office holder?

The Act created a statutory category of "designated public office holder" to include ministers, ministerial staff, deputy ministers and chief executives of departments and agencies, officials in departments and agencies at the rank of associate deputy minister and assistant deputy minister, as well as those occupying positions of comparable rank.

The first eleven positions or classes of positions were designated by way of regulation on July 2, 2008:

  • Chief of the Defence Staff (Canadian Forces)
  • Vice Chief of the Defence Staff (Canadian Forces)
  • Chief of Maritime Staff (Canadian Forces)
  • Chief of Land Staff (Canadian Forces)
  • Chief of Air Staff (Canadian Forces)
  • Chief of Military Personnel (Canadian Forces)
  • Judge Advocate General (Canadian Forces)
  • Any positions of Senior Advisor to the Privy Council Office to which the office holder is appointed by the Governor in Council
  • Deputy Minister (Intergovernmental Affairs) (Privy Council Office)
  • Comptroller General of Canada
  • Any position to which the office holder is appointed pursuant to paragraph 127.1(a) or (b) of the Public Service Employment Act

The next three positions or classes of positions were designated by way of regulation on September 20, 2010:

  • Members of Parliament
  • Members of the Senate
  • Any staff working in the offices of the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons or in the Senate, appointed pursuant to subsection 128(1) of the Public Service Employment Act.

In certain cases, an individual who occupies a DPOH position on an "acting" basis may become a DPOH for the purposes of the Act. Please refer to the Interpretation Bulletin entitled "Acting Appointments in Designated Public Office Holder Positions" for more details.

When must a monthly return be filed?

Monthly returns must be filed not later than 15 days after the end of any month in which communication of a prescribed type involving a designated public office holder took place. The Lobbyists Registration Regulations prescribe the types of communications that must be reported in a monthly report as "oral and arranged communications excluding oral and arranged communications initiated by public office holders related to the development of policy, programs or legislation."  In-house and consultant lobbyists must report all oral and arranged communications relating to financial benefits, even when initiated by a public officer holder. Likewise, consultant lobbyists must report oral and arranged communications relating to a contract regardless of who initiated the communication.

The following scenarios are examples indicating when monthly returns must be filed:

Scenario 1: A lobbyist is registered to lobby Health Canada on a policy issue. She calls the office of the Minister of Health and arranges for her client and herself to meet with the Minister's Chief of Staff the following week. The meeting takes place as scheduled. In this example, the new provisions of the Lobbying Act relating to communication with a DPOH would apply as follows:

  • A return containing certain details about the meeting with the Chief of Staff must be filed no later than the 15th day of the month following the meeting.

Scenario 2: A professional association is registered as an in-house lobbyist (organization) to lobby Environment Canada with respect to proposed legislation that is of interest to the association's members. The Vice-President, Government Relations, for the association, who is listed as being one of the association's registered lobbyists, is having lunch at a downtown restaurant. As he is leaving, he notices an Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) from Environment Canada in the cloakroom. He introduces himself, briefly states his association's interest in the proposed legislation, and arranges to meet the ADM the following week. The meeting takes place as scheduled. In this example, the new provisions of the Lobbying Act relating to communication with a DPOH would apply as follows:

  • No monthly return would be required with respect to the unplanned meeting in the cloakroom.
  • A return containing certain details about the arranged meeting with the ADM must be filed no later than the 15th day of the month following the arranged meeting.

Scenario 3: A consultant lobbyist is registered to lobby the National Research Council on behalf of a client who is seeking a repayable contribution to help develop a new product. The Minister of Industry has expressed interest in learning more about the product. A member of his staff calls the lobbyist or arranges for a briefing with the Minister and the Deputy Minister. In this example, the new provisions of the Lobbying Act relating to communication with a DPOH would apply as follows:

  • A return containing certain details about the meeting must be filed no later than the 15th day of the month following the briefing because the subject matter of the meeting related to a financial benefit, regardless of the fact that the meeting was arranged by a DPOH.

What information must be contained in a monthly return?
Monthly returns must disclose the name, title or military/RCMP rank, and department of each designated public office holder with whom a lobbyist has communicated, the date of the communication, and the subject matter of the communication.

For further information, please contact:

Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada
Tel.: 613-957-2760
Fax: 613-957-3078
Email: questionslobbying@lobbycanada.gc.ca

Karen E. Shepherd
Commissioner of Lobbying

Created July 2009
Modified September 2010