Departmental Corporations and Registrable Activities under the Lobbying Act

Purpose of Advisory Opinion

This advisory opinion is issued by the Commissioner of Lobbying under the authority of subsection 10(1) of the Lobbying Act. Its purpose is to provide guidance for lobbyists with respect to departmental corporations and registrable activities under the Lobbying Act.

Commissioner's Opinion

Communication between officials employed in a departmental corporation and federal public office holders concerning its mandate, operation, funding and other related matters, is not a registrable activity.

Background

On November 13, 2009 the Clerk of the Privy Council was asked by the Prime Minister to convey the following governmental expectations concerning the engagement of consultant lobbyists to communicate with Crown corporations, departmental corporations and shared governance organizations:

"Crown corporations, departmental corporations and shared governance organizations for which the Government of Canada has direct responsibilities or which expend funds reported as Government assets in the Public Accounts of Canada should not engage consultant lobbyists to communicate with the Government of Canada. Communication between these organizations and the Government about their mandates, operations, funding and other matters are a regular, ongoing aspect of government operations. The Government believes that accountability and the public interest are best served when its relationship with these organizations is conducted via candid and direct communications between corporate officers and responsible Ministers and their officials, and that the use of consultant lobbyists for this purpose is unnecessary and an inappropriate use of public funds."

Departmental corporations are corporations created by Acts of Parliament and are listed in Schedule II of the Financial Administration Act. They report to Parliament through a Minister, but usually function with greater autonomy from the core public administration than do ministerial departments, and generally perform administrative, research, advisory, supervisory or regulatory functions. Their governing bodies have roles specified in their constituent legislation, which vary in nature, function, and program responsibility. Some do not have any management oversight responsibilities (e.g., Assisted Human Reproduction Canada). See the appendix for a list of departmental corporations.

Following the letter sent by the Clerk, the Commissioner has considered the application of the registration requirements of the Lobbying Act with respect to departmental corporations. The Commissioner takes the view that communication between officials of a departmental corporation and federal public office holders concerning the mandate, operations and funding of the departmental corporation, and other related matters, does not fall within the definition of registrable lobbying activity under the Lobbying Act. As a result, departmental corporations are not required to register employees as in-house lobbyists.

Karen E. Shepherd
Commissioner of Lobbying
March 2010


Appendix

List of Departmental Corporations Identified by the Clerk of the Privy Council

(November 17, 2009)

List of Crown Corporations Identified by the Clerk of the Privy Council
Portfolio Organization
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Food Inspection Agency
Canadian Heritage National Battlefields Commission
Environment National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy
Parks Canada Agency
Health Assisted Human Reproduction Agency of Canada
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada Employment Insurance Commission
Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canadian Polar Commission
Industry National Research Council of Canada
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Labour Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
National Revenue Canada Revenue Agency
Natural Resources Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
Prime Minister (President of Queen's Privy Council for Canada) Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board
Public Safety Canada Border Services Agency
Treasury Board Canada School of Public Service