Language selection

About investigations

The Commissioner of Lobbying must investigate when there is reason to believe an investigation is necessary to ensure compliance with the Lobbying Act or the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct. The Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying conducts these investigations on the Commissioner's behalf.


The Office must investigate in private.

The Commissioner and anyone acting on the Commissioner's behalf may only disclose information learned during an investigation under the following circumstances:

  • if disclosure is necessary to conduct the investigation
  • to advise a peace officer of an alleged offence
  • in an investigation report submitted for tabling in Parliament

To help us keep investigations private, we ask witnesses to not share the content of interviews or written correspondence with anyone other than their legal counsel.

The investigation process

Initiating an investigation

The Office conducts a variety of compliance monitoring activities, including reviewing allegations reported by third parties. We take all allegations seriously.

Before initiating an investigation, we conduct a preliminary assessment to determine if:

  • the matter falls within the Commissioner's mandate and jurisdiction
  • an investigation is necessary to ensure compliance

We may interview the source of the allegation and the subject of the allegation to make this determination. If the Commissioner has sufficient credible evidence to believe an investigation is necessary to ensure compliance, an investigation will be initiated.

Contraventions of the Lobbying Act are offences punishable by fines and, in some cases, imprisonment. If the allegation involves a potential breach of the Act, we usually do not advise the person who is the subject of the investigation. This protects the integrity of a potential investigation by a peace officer.

Breaches of the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct are not offences punishable by fines.

During an investigation

Commissioner's powers

During an investigation, the Commissioner has the authority to:

  • summon and enforce attendance
  • compel the production of documents
  • receive oral or written evidence on oath

We may interview the subject of the investigation, public office holders, employers or clients of lobbyists, and other relevant witnesses. We may also interview the person who reported an allegation.

Interviews are conducted under oath, and are recorded. We conduct investigations in a manner that safeguards the integrity of the investigation, protects confidentiality and ensures procedural fairness.

The role of witnesses

Although public office holders and other witnesses are not the subject of investigations by the Office, they are an important source of information. When we send a written request for information and/or schedule an interview with witnesses, we will inform you of:

  • the nature of the allegation under investigation
  • the purpose of the request

We ask witnesses not to divulge that an investigation has commenced, except to the extent it is necessary to obtain the requested information or to obtain legal counsel.

Witnesses are not parties during the investigation process. As a result, we will not provide information about the progress or outcome of an investigation except when an investigation is completed and a report is tabled in Parliament.

The role of the subject of an investigation

If you are the subject of an investigation, we ask you to provide information under oath during an interview. You may be accompanied by your lawyer.

You are asked to preserve and produce any documentation that relates to the subject-matter of the investigation.

During the course of the investigation and before we conclude our investigation, you will be provided with an opportunity to present your views.

End of an investigation

Criminal offence

If, at any time, the Commissioner has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has been committed, the Commissioner must suspend the investigation and refer the matter to a peace officer (e.g. RCMP, other provincial/territorial police services, etc.)

If the referral does not result in a charge or conviction, the Commissioner may decide to cease the investigation or continue to investigate and report to Parliament.

Ceasing an investigation

The Commissioner may cease an investigation for any valid reason including:

  • the matter is more appropriately dealt with under another Act
  • the matter is not sufficiently important
  • the length of time that has elapsed

When an investigation is ceased, the Commissioner is not required to table a report to Parliament.

Violation of the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct

After the completion of an investigation of an alleged breach of the Code, the Commissioner is required to publish findings and conclusions in a report submitted to Parliament and made public, whether or not the allegation is well-founded.

Prohibition on lobbying following a conviction

If an individual is convicted of an offence under the Lobbying Act, the Commissioner may prohibit that individual from lobbying for a period of up to two years.

Information for lawyers

Investigations conducted by the Office are inquisitorial rather than adversarial in nature. They are focused on gathering and analyzing relevant information in order to allow the Commissioner of Lobbying to make the factual determinations necessary to establish conclusions as to whether the subjects of investigations have contravened their obligations under the Act or Code.

In this context, we view counsel's role as assisting their clients, who may be either the subject of the investigation or a relevant witness, to present their views to the Commissioner and to assist in obtaining all relevant information as expeditiously as possible.

Although counsel may attend interviews with their clients, they do not have the right to be present during interviews of other witnesses or to cross-examine them. However, counsel may make representations during interviews with their clients, and in writing, at any time during the course of an investigation. We will carefully consider any such representations in completing our investigations.

Report a problem on this page
Please select all that apply:
Date modified: