Archived — Commissioner's Advice on the Application of Rule 8 to Lobbyists involved in Political Activities

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Archived Information

On December 1, 2015, the Commissioner issued guidance for lobbyists which explains her interpretation of the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct with respect to the intersection of political and lobbying activities. Information identified as archived on the Web serves as a reference or for research and recordkeeping purposes only. This information has not been altered or updated following the date of archiving. Website pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards..

Rule 8
Lobbyists shall not place public office holders in a conflict of interest by proposing or undertaking any action that would constitute an improper influence on the public office holder.

The purpose of this advice is to provide the Commissioner's view on the implications of Rule 8 of the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct on lobbyists registered under the Lobbying Act (the Act) who engage in political activities.

The term "political activities" encompasses a range of tasks from the simple distribution of flyers and posting of signs, to fund-raising, or running election campaigns. Some of these activities may be of limited duration, while others may be of a longer, more on-going nature.

Lobbyists who participate in political activities must ensure that they comply with the disclosure requirements of the Act in relation to any lobbying activity that could arise before, during or after political activity. In addition, subsection 10.3 of the Act states that lobbyists are required to comply with the requirements of the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct. The purpose of the Code is to assure the Canadian public that lobbying is done ethically and with the highest standards with a view to conserving and enhancing public confidence and trust in the integrity, objectivity and impartiality of government decision-making.

In view of this, lobbyists should take all necessary measures to avoid any real or apparent conflict of interest involving themselves and their clients, as well as with public office holders with whom they may meet, assist or otherwise communicate resulting from their political activities.

The Commissioner's guidance on Rule 8 states that a lobbyist may be in breach of Rule 8 if:

  • the lobbyist's actions create a real conflict of interest for a public office holder, or
  • the lobbyist's actions create the appearance of a conflict of interest for a public office holder.

The determination of what constitutes a conflict of interest remains a question of fact in each case. Lobbyists should ensure that their participation in political activities does not cause a tension between the public office holder's duty to serve or protect the public good and his or her private interest or obligation. In particular, lobbyists should ensure that they do not place public office holders in breach of their own code of conduct.

In past guidance from this Office, lobbyists were urged to analyze the extent to which their political and lobbying activities were compatible and if those activities required re-assessment during an election campaign.

Given the Commissioner's guidance on Rule 8, however, lobbyists should consider whether de-registering is sufficient. In determining if ceasing to lobby for a specified period of time is sufficient, lobbyists should look at the nature of their lobbying work, who they presently lobby and who they intend to lobby in the future.

More information on Conflict of Interest — Rule 8 (Lobbyists' Code of Conduct)