Disclosure of Previous Public Offices

Purpose of this 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 paragraphs 5(2)(h.1) for consultant lobbyists and 7(3)(h) for in-house lobbyists employed by corporations or organizations to disclose the nature of their past public sector work, including, if applicable, former designated public offices held.

Background and Legislative Context

In 2005, amendments to the Lobbyists Registration Act added a requirement for the disclosure of previous public offices held. This disclosure was added to provide a better understanding of the relationship between a former public office holder in his or her previous capacity, and that individual's current activities in communicating with public office holders.

As did the Lobbyists Registration Act, the Lobbying Act defines a "public office holder" (POH) as any officer or employee of the federal government including members of the Senate or House of Commons and members of their staff, Governor in Council appointees, Ministers, officers, directors or employees of any federal board, commission or tribunal, members of the Canadian Armed Forces and members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

In addition, the Lobbying Act introduced the term "designated public office holder" (DPOH). A DPOH is referred to as an official responsible for high-level decision-making in government and is defined in the Act to include ministers, ministerial staff, deputy ministers and chief executive of departments and agencies, and officials in departments and agencies at the rank of associate deputy minister and assistant deputy minister.

A further eleven positions or classes of positions were designated by way of regulation on July 2, 2008. In addition, three positions or classes of positions were designated by way of regulation on September 20, 2010. The definition of a DPOH includes seven senior positions in the Canadian Forces, all Members of Parliament and all Senators, as well as any staff working in the offices of the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons and in the Senate, appointed pursuant to subsection 128(1) of the Public Service Employment Act, among others.

Considerations

While the classification level held by a former public officer is relevant, so too is the nature of the work, knowledge obtained, the contacts established and the relationships developed. The fact that an individual occupied a technical position in the public service for a short period would not be definitive in determining the need for disclosure. If that employment were in an area such as nuclear safety, for example, then technical knowledge gained through such work might have ongoing relevance. Similarly, an individual might have held a senior Cabinet, political staffer or public service position more than 20 years ago, but may still hold sway when calling on present day officials.

Parliament's underlying intent for these provisions was to ensure that the Act resulted in greater transparency by requiring lobbyists to disclose all previous public offices held. Thus, it would be important to know when and where a former public office holder worked, whether in a political office, by appointment or within the public service.   

Also important, the Federal Accountability Act introduced a five year prohibition on lobbying activities for designated public office holders. For this reason, lobbyists must also indicate if any of the public offices formerly held qualified as a designated public office, and if so, the date on which the lobbyist last ceased to hold this designated public office.

Registration Requirements

If a consultant lobbyist or any employee named in a return was at any time during their career a public office holder as defined above, disclosure of all such positions, in the manner and format described below, is required. This includes employment for a short duration, such as student employment, co-operative education and summer positions with the federal government.

In this context, lobbyists and registrants must disclose the following: the period of employment; the branch or unit where the work was performed; and the title of the position. A "unit" means any organizational structure, such as the department, branch, division, directorate, or office.

Consultant lobbyists or any employee named in a return must also indicate if any of the listed public offices were designated, and if so, the date on which they last ceased to hold such a designated public office. The regulations also require registrants to indicate if they are exempt from the five year lobbying prohibition, and if so, they must indicate the reason the ban does not apply. These reasons could include the following: the individual occupied the position through an employment exchange program, the individual was granted an exemption by the Commissioner or the individual held an assistant deputy minister level position and ceased to hold that position within six months of the coming into force of the Act.

The following are some illustrative examples of acceptable disclosures for former public office holders:

  • Name of Department or Government Institution: Finance Canada
    Branch or Unit: Tax Policy Division
    Position Title: Policy Analyst
    Period during which office was held: September 1978 to May 1983 (months are optional)
    Was this a designated public office
    : No
  • Name of Department or Government Institution: Industry Canada
    Branch or Unit: Energy and Marine Branch
    Position Title: Director of Operations
    Period during which office was held: 1993–2003
    Was this a designated public office: No
  • Name of Department or Government Institution: Finance Canada
    Branch or Unit: Office of the Minister of Finance
    Position Title: Summer student
    Period during which office was held: May 1985–September 1985 (months are optional)
    Was this a designated public office: No
  • Name of Department or Government Institution: Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
    Position Title: President
    Period during which office was held: January 1995–January 1997 (months are optional)
    Was this a designated public office: No
  • Name of Department or Government Institution: Canadian Heritage
    Position Title Assistant Deputy Minister
    Period during which office was held: May 2007–August 2008 (months are optional)
    Was this a designated public office: Yes
    If not subject to the five year ban, indicate the reason: Six-month transitional provision for assistant deputy minister levels.

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