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Lobbying at the federal level — At a glance

Lobbying is defined as

  1. Payment

    By an employer or a client.

  2. To communicate

    Directly (in writing, orally) or indirectly (grassroots) with a federal public office holder.

  3. About a listed topic
    • legislative proposals, bills, resolutions, regulations
    • policies or programs
    • awarding of grants, contributions or other financial benefits
    • awarding of contracts (consultant lobbyists only)


    • arranging a meeting between a public office holder and any other person (consultant lobbyists only).

Lobbying does not include

Oral or written submissions to parliamentary committees or proceedings that are a matter of public record.

Exchanges about the enforcement, interpretation or application of a law or regulation by the responsible public office holder.

Requests for information to government or parliamentarians.

Those who lobby

Consultant lobbyists

  • communicate on behalf of clients
  • may be on a board of directors
  • must file an individual return in the Registry of Lobbyists

Collectively, if research, logistics, meetings, preparing materials and government relations equal at least 20% of 1 full-time employee, the person who holds the most senior office has to file a return

In-house lobbyists

  • employed by corporations or organizations
  • the person who holds the most senior office has to file a return if lobbying exceeds the 20% threshold

Lobbyists do not include

  • corporations and organizations not exceeding the 20% threshold
  • volunteers
  • citizens communicating on their own behalf
  • officials in other levels of government

Those who are lobbied

Public office holders

  • Almost all federal government employees
  • Members of the House of Commons and their staff
  • Members of the Senate and their staff
  • Some governor in council appointees

Communication with a public office holder requires the filing of a registration by lobbyists.

Designated public office holders

  • Prime Minister, ministers, ministers of state, and their staff
  • Members of the House of Commons
  • Members of the Senate
  • Deputy ministers, ADMs, and equivalents
  • Positions designated by regulation
  • Some governor in council appointees

Communication with a designated public office holder also requires the filing of a monthly communication report by lobbyists.

Lobbyists' Code of Conduct

The Lobbyists' Code of Conduct sets standards for behaviour with a focus on:

  • ensuring respect for democratic institutions
  • integrity
  • honesty
  • openness
  • professionalism

Individuals who lobby the federal government must adhere to the 10 rules outlined in the Code.

These rules are the standard of conduct for transparency, the use of information, and mitigating conflicts of interest.

5-year post employment prohibition

Applies to all designated public office holders after they leave office and lasts for a period of 5 years.

Under the prohibition former designated public office holders cannot be paid to:

  1. work as a consultant lobbyist
  2. lobby on behalf of an organization
  3. lobby on behalf of a corporation if lobbying activities constitute a significant part of their work

Registry of Lobbyists

Is the main tool to ensure transparency.

Lobbyists' activities must be reported.

The registry is easily accessible at

Non-compliance with the Act and Code

Anyone convicted of an offence under the Lobbying Act may be subject to fines, imprisonment, and a lobbying ban.

Breaching the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct may result in a report to Parliament.

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