Annual Report 2016-2017 (Page 5 of 6)
Reaching out to build awareness
The Lobbying Act (the Act) provides the Commissioner of Lobbying with a mandate to foster public awareness of the requirements of the Act and the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct (the Code). My Office continues to deliver educational activities and products through a comprehensive outreach program.
Outreach to stakeholders
In 2016-17, I added social media accounts on Twitter – @OCL_CAL in English and @CAL_OCL in French – and a monthly blog on LinkedIn, which offer opportunities to increase the reach of outreach and education activities. In addition, in 2016-17, my staff and I met with more than 550 individuals, including lobbyists, public office holders, parliamentarians, and academics. The onus is on lobbyists to comply with the Act and the Code. This year, I continued to issue advisory letters to lobbyists, potential lobbyists, and former designated public office holders who are subject to the five-year prohibition on lobbying. The purpose of these letters is to ensure they understood the requirements of the Act and the Code. A total of 66 advisory letters were sent in 2016-17.
Although the Lobbying Act puts the onus on lobbyists to comply, federal public office holders play an important role in ensuring lobbying is transparent. Understanding the requirements of the Act and Code means that federal public office holders are more likely to recognize Lobbying Activity and to contribute to compliance. For this reason, I regularly meet with senior federal officials and management teams in departments and agencies. My staff and I also offer educational sessions to public office holders across government.
Former designated public office holders
Under the Lobbying Act, designated public office holders are subject to a five-year prohibition on lobbying after they cease performing their duties. Specifically, former designated public office holders are prohibited from lobbying the federal government as a consultant lobbyist or on behalf of an organization for five years.
They can, however, lobby on behalf of a corporation, if lobbying constitutes less than a significant part of their work, which I have interpreted as 20%.
Former or outgoing designated public office holders often seek advice and guidance from my Office to understand what activities are permitted. My staff and I are pleased to provide confidential advice.
My Office continues to send advisory letters to former designated public office holders listed in registrations filed by corporations. The purpose of these letters is to ensure that former designated public office holders who are lobbying for corporations respect the restriction on lobbying set out in the Act. Recipients are asked to confirm that they understand the limits placed on their lobbying activities and that they are complying with the Act. This is an ongoing activity to ensure that former designated public office holders who engage in lobbying for corporations within the first five years after leaving office remain fully aware of the restrictions on their lobbying activities.
In 2016-17, one verification letter was sent to a former designated public office holder who was listed in an active registration filed by a corporation.
Connecting with counterparts
Across Canada and around the world, there is a growing community of regulators whose mandate is to ensure lobbying is conducted ethically and in a transparent manner. Interactions between lobbying regulators from Canada and other countries provide opportunities to discuss issues and share practices related to the administration of lobbying regimes.
I participate in meetings of the Canadian Lobbyists Registrars and Commissioners Network, which are held twice annually. Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec have established lobbying registration regimes. Saskatchewan’s registration system became operational in fall 2016. New Brunswick’s registry is expected to become operational later in 2017.
At the municipal level, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton and Brampton had lobbyist registries in place and Vaughan started a registry in 2016. Winnipeg announced the introduction of a voluntary registry. St. John’s in Newfoundland and Labrador and municipalities in the province of Quebec have specific requirements concerning lobbying included in their respective provincial legislation.
I continue to be active in the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL), a professional organization for governmental agencies and other organizations working in the areas of ethics, elections, freedom of information, lobbying and campaign financing.
I am often consulted about lobbying regulation by representatives of other countries. This past year, representatives from the United Kingdom, Scotland, and the European Parliament sought my expertise.