Letter to Members of Parliament and Senators explaining their responsibilities as designated public office holders under the Lobbying Act (June 8, 2011)

To: Members of Parliament and Senators

Subject: The Lobbying Act and how it affects you as a designated public office holder

I am writing to you regarding the Lobbying Act, specifically with respect to your responsibilities under the Act as a designated public office holder.

The Lobbying Act recognizes that lobbying is a legitimate activity and that free and open access to government is an important matter of public interest. However, it is desirable that Canadians be able to know who is engaged in lobbying activities. To that end, my Office maintains a web-based system for the registration of paid lobbyists, the Registry of Lobbyists. You can consult the Registry at lobbycanada.gc.ca.

It is important to note that it is the responsibility of lobbyists to register their lobbying activities with my Office. The Lobbying Act further requires lobbyists to report certain communications with designated public office holders (DPOHs) to my Office on a monthly basis. In September 2010, Members of Parliament and Senators became DPOHs for the purposes of the Lobbying Act.

In my role as Commissioner of Lobbying, I have the authority to require DPOHs to confirm information that has been submitted by lobbyists in these monthly reports. The Lobbying Act does not specify that DPOHs must keep records, only that they confirm, if requested by my Office, the information provided by a lobbyist. As a best practice, you may wish to keep such records in the event that my Office requests that you confirm the information reported by a lobbyist.

The Lobbying Act also imposes a five-year post-employment prohibition on lobbying that applies to DPOHs. Under the Lobbying Act, I have the authority to grant exemptions to the five-year prohibition on lobbying if doing so would not be contrary to the purposes of the Lobbying Act.

The information enclosed is to assist you, as a DPOH, in understanding your obligations under the Lobbying Act. Specifically, you will find: a summary of the exemption review process; an interpretation bulletin on the registration requirements for lobbyists when communicating with a DPOH; and a document entitled "Ten things you should know about lobbying – A practical guide for parliamentarians."

I would encourage you to contact my Office should you have any questions related to this material or the Lobbying Act in general. You can reach us by email at QuestionsLobbying@ocl-cal.gc.ca or by phone at (613) 957-2760.

Sincerely yours,

Karen Shepherd
Commissioner of Lobbying