Guidance to mitigate conflicts of interest with respect to gifts
Rule 10 – To avoid the creation of a sense of obligation, a lobbyist shall not provide or promise a gift, favour, or other benefit to a public office holder, whom they are lobbying or will lobby, which the public office holder is not allowed to accept.
Prohibition on gifts
Providing a gift to a public office holder can create a sense of obligation on their part. A gift is anything of value (amount, service, property, etc.) given for free or at a reduced rate. This includes, but is not limited to, food, drinks, tickets, passes or access to events, tokens of appreciation, and promotional items.
Unless an exception applies, you may not offer gifts to a public office holder who you lobby or will lobby. The best way to avoid creating a sense of obligation is to not provide gifts to public office holders.
Gifts provided as a normal expression of courtesy or within the customary standards that normally accompany the public office holder's position would not typically create a sense of obligation. Gifts that may be provided under this exception are limited to the examples below.
Although a single gift may be provided under this exception, repeated or multiple gifts risk creating a sense of obligation. You must exercise caution if you offer more than one gift to a public office holder or if that public office holder has received gifts from your client or employer, or their affiliates.
- Tickets, passes or access to events, including any meals or refreshments provided during these events, where the public office holder serves as a speaker, moderator or in a ceremonial role. For employees of the Public Service of Canada this also includes acting as an official representative of their department or organization;
- Gifts of minimal value provided to a public office holder as a token of thanks or appreciation when they serve as a speaker, moderator or in a ceremonial role;
- Promotional items of minimal value; or
- Meals or refreshments offered during a meeting. The total cost of the working meal and refreshments provided to a public office holder must be of minimal value.
Providing food or refreshments at a reception constitutes a gift. Offering such a gift may be acceptable but depends on whether the cost of the food and refreshments is reasonable and if such a gift would create a sense of obligation on the part of the public office holders being invited. You must assess this on a case-by-case basis whenever you decide to invite public office holders to a reception.
Acceptability of gifts
You must exercise due diligence to avoid offering gifts to public office holders that they cannot accept under their applicable values and ethics regimes.
Questions? Contact us at QuestionsLobbying@ocl-cal.gc.ca or 613-957-2760.