Disclosure Requirements Related to Advisory and Stakeholder Consultations

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 registration requirements for individuals involved in advisory and stakeholder consultations with the federal government.

Advisory and Stakeholder Consultations and Registration Requirements

In advisory and stakeholder consultations where industry and other participants exchange views with public office holders on broad-based, horizontal issues, the transparency of the consultations is very important with respect to the requirement to register. In general, the requirement to register in terms of an advisory and stakeholder consultation process involves a number of factors or conditions which influence the transparency of the process. For example, parliamentary committees, unless held in camera, are transparent in terms of participants, proceedings, and decisions. Conversely, closed meetings involving unknown participants, with no record of discussions or decisions, and no details about the proceedings, are less transparent. Thus, one could conclude that as an advisory and stakeholder consultation process approaches the transparency level of a parliamentary committee, the requirement for registration becomes less necessary.

How to Assess the Transparency of a Consultation Process

To arrive at a transparency level that is comparable to that of a parliamentary committee, several factors should be considered. The following are some of the key factors or conditions that increase the transparency of a consultation process:

  • Meetings are fully open to the public, with no restrictions on attendance by invitation, membership or any other form of exclusion. The more restrictive the process the lower the transparency level.
  • Meetings are publicly announced with locations, times, participants, and agendas listed.
  • Consultation results are widely disseminated with no real audience restriction, in hardcopy or electronically shortly after the event, so as to be as timely as possible.
  • Consultation results contain the complete proceedings, minutes, or summaries of what took place with attribution to the specific participants of what they said and to whom.

Thus, as a consultation process becomes more transparent and approaches the benchmark of a Parliamentary Committee, the likelihood that participants are required to register lessens. However, every consultation process must be assessed on its own merits and participants must make the decision whether or not to register based upon their assessment of the consultation process in question.

For more information, please contact:

Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada
Telephone: 613-957-2760
Facsimile:  613-957-3078
Email: QuestionsLobbying@ocl-cal.gc.ca

Karen E. Shepherd
Commissioner of Lobbying
July 2009