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Consultation on future changes to the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct

Current status:

The third and final consultation is now closed.

How to participate

We welcome your views on improving and clarifying the standards of conduct for lobbyists as we finalize an update of the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct.

Preparing your feedback

You are invited to submit feedback on any part of the draft Code or items you believe should be included. In your response:

  • Please note the rule, definition or theme that you are responding to
  • Keep your response to 2,500 words or less
  • Indicate if your feedback is provided in a personal capacity or on behalf of an organization, employer, client, etc.
  • Acknowledge that you are aware that your feedback is being provided in relation to a public consultation

Please send your feedback by June 22, 2022 to engagement@lobbycanada.gc.ca.

As part of our commitment to transparency, we will publish submissions on our website after the consultation period ends.

For ease of reference as well as improved and accessibility, submissions will be published as text only.

About this consultation

The third and final consultation on changes to the Code took into consideration comments received from the previous consultation on a preliminary draft (Dec. 15, 2021 to Feb. 18, 2022).

An initial consultation was held in late 2020 to obtain the views and perspectives of stakeholders in relation to the existing Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct (2015).

Established under federal lobbying legislation, the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct has existed since 1997. This mandatory code of ethics establishes behaviour standards that lobbyists must respect when they engage in lobbying activities at the federal level in Canada.

The Code applies to all consultant and in-house lobbyists who must be listed in the Registry of Lobbyists in accordance with the Lobbying Act’s registration requirements.

The Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct is a non-statutory tool that complements the Lobbying Act’s registration requirements and serves to reinforce transparent and ethical lobbying. Breaches of the Code may result in a report to Parliament.

The Code was last updated in 2015, and preliminary consultation with stakeholders and recent investigation reports highlight that further improvements are warranted.

Revised draft Code - May 2022 (current consultation)

Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct

Standards for transparent and ethical lobbying

Objectives

The objective of this code is to foster transparent and ethical lobbying of federal officials.

This code is required by and complements the Lobbying Act, which recognizes that access to government is in the public interest, that transparent and ethical lobbying is a legitimate activity, that officials and the public be able to know who is carrying out lobbying activities, and that lobbying registration should not impede access to government.

By complying with the rules of this code, lobbyists:

  • strengthen the ethical culture of lobbying
  • avoid placing officials in real or apparent conflict of interest situations
  • contribute to public confidence in the integrity of federal government institutions and decision making

Application

An individual must comply with this code if the Lobbying Act requires them to do so. In this code, such individuals are referred to as lobbyists.

This code of conduct was published in the Canada Gazette and came into force on [Month D, YYYY].

Scope

This code applies to lobbying activities and the interactions lobbyists have with officials that they lobby or expect to lobby.

Compliance

A lobbyist’s conduct is assessed against the rules in this code.

Non-compliance with any rule may result in an investigation by the Commissioner of Lobbying. This can lead to a public investigation report to Parliament.

Expectations

These expectations are intended to guide lobbyists in complying with the rules within this code.

Transparency

Ethical lobbying requires a commitment to openness. Conducting transparent lobbying ensures that officials understand the purpose of the lobbying and on whose behalf it is carried out.

Respect for government institutions

Canada’s parliamentary democracy and its institutions serve Canadians. Understanding and respecting that officials have a duty to serve the public interest is vital to ethical lobbying. It is therefore essential that lobbyists avoid placing officials in real or apparent conflict of interest situations.

Integrity and honesty

Ethical lobbying grounded in integrity, honesty and professionalism upholds the letter and spirit of the Lobbying Act, its regulations and this code. It also supports informed decision making by officials and, in turn, public confidence in federal government institutions.

Rules

If the Lobbying Act requires you to comply with this code, you must follow these rules:

Transparency

1.1

When you lobby officials, identify yourself, your client or employer and the purpose of your communication.

1.2

When you lobby by making grassroots appeals to persuade the public to communicate with officials, identify your client or employer and the purpose of the communication in the appeal.

1.3

When you lobby on behalf of a client, inform your client that you have, and that they may have, obligations under the Lobbying Act, its regulations and this code.

1.4

When you lobby as part of your employment, inform your employer (as represented by the registrant) about your lobbying activities in order to support accurate registration and reporting in the Registry of Lobbyists.

1.5

If you are the registrant for an employer, inform employees who lobby for the employer about their obligations under this code.

Integrity and honesty

2.1

When lobbying, act in good faith and take all reasonable steps to verify the accuracy of the information you share so as to not mislead.

2.2

Do not use or share information that an official provides to you in confidence.

Gifts

3

Never offer, promise or provide – directly or indirectly – any gift to an official that you lobby or expect to lobby, other than gifts that are low-value tokens of appreciation or promotional items. The combined value of tokens of appreciation and promotional items you provide to the same official within a 12-month period cannot exceed the low-value limit.

Exemption:

When not contrary to the objectives or expectations of this code, the Commissioner may grant an exemption, taking into account any circumstances that the Commissioner considers relevant, including:

  • by how much the gift exceeds the low-value limit
  • local market prices
  • if the gift is a customary expression of courtesy or protocol

Hospitality

4

Never offer – directly or indirectly – hospitality to an official that you lobby or expect to lobby, other than low value food or beverage for consumption during an in-person meeting, event or reception. The total value of hospitality you provide to the same official within a 12-month period cannot exceed the low-value limit.

Exemption:

When not contrary to the objectives or expectations of this code, the Commissioner may grant an exemption, taking into account any circumstances that the Commissioner considers relevant, including:

  • by how much the hospitality exceeds the low-value limit
  • local market prices
  • dietary requirements or restrictions

Close relationships

5

Never lobby an official where the official could reasonably be seen to have a sense of obligation towards you because you have a close relationship with the official.

Political work

6

Never lobby an official or their associates where the official could reasonably be seen to have a sense of obligation towards you because of political work – paid or unpaid – you have done for the benefit of the official, unless the cooling-off period has expired.

Reduction to the cooling-off period:

When not contrary to the objectives or expectations of this code, the Commissioner may reduce the cooling off period, taking into account any circumstances that the Commissioner considers relevant, including:

  • the importance or prominence of the political work
  • the frequency or volume of the political work

Sense of obligation

7.1

Never lobby an official where the official could reasonably be seen to have a sense of obligation towards you because of circumstances not addressed by any other rule.

7.2

If you know that your client or employer has either a close relationship with an official or taken an action that benefited an official, never lobby the official where they could reasonably be seen to have a sense of obligation towards you – as a representative of your client or employer – because of that close relationship or action.


Appendix: Definitions

Terms referred to in the rules are defined as follows:

General terms

client

Any person, group, corporation or organization that pays or promises to pay money or anything of value to a consultant lobbyist to lobby.

employer

A corporation or organization that employs one or more individuals who lobby on its behalf (i.e. in-house lobbyists).

grassroots appeal

The communication technique described in paragraph 5(2)(j) and referred to in paragraph 7(3)(k) of the Lobbying Act.

lobby or lobbying

To conduct any activity described in subsections 5(1) and 7(1) of the Lobbying Act.

official

Any 'public office holder' as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Lobbying Act.

registrant for an employer

The ‘officer responsible for filing returns’ (i.e. the employee holding the most senior paid office of a corporation or organization) as defined in subsection 7(6) of the Lobbying Act, who is responsible for registering lobbying carried out by employees.

Gifts and hospitality

indirectly

Where:

  • the lobbyist knows that another person or entity is acting on their behalf to offer, promise or provide gifts or hospitality to an official
  • the lobbyist offers, promises or provides gifts or hospitality to an official through an intermediary
gift

Anything of value given for free, without charge, at a reduced rate, or at less than market value, with no obligation to repay. For the purposes of this code, the term ‘gift’ does not include hospitality.

Examples:

  • credit or loan
  • door prize
  • entertainment activity
  • excursion
  • food or beverage given outside the context of ‘hospitality’
  • gift certificate
  • money
  • parking
  • product
  • promotional item
  • property or use of property
  • reward or benefit
  • service
  • ticket, pass or access to an event
  • token of appreciation
  • travel, transportation
  • voucher
hospitality

Food or beverage provided for consumption during an in-person meeting, event or reception.

low-value

Means the total market value – without discount for anything that has been donated or subsidized – of gifts or hospitality that can be given to the same official within a 12-month period.

Low-value is set at $30 in 2022 dollars, including taxes. On a yearly basis, the Commissioner can take inflation into account in adjusting this amount. In doing so, low-value will be calculated relative to 2022 prices based on the consumer price index data maintained by Statistics Canada.

Low-value for hospitality is determined by dividing the total cost of food, beverage, gratuities and catering by the number of individuals reasonably expected to attend the meeting, event or reception. Hospitality costs must reflect standard rates and cannot be allocated to venue rental fees, facility fees, event management expenses, or similar items, as a way to avoid exceeding the low-value limit.

promotional item

A gift that typically has corporate branding or messaging used in the marketing of a product, service or entity.

token of appreciation

A gift given as an expression of gratitude to an official for serving as a speaker, presenter, panelist, moderator or for performing a ceremonial role at an event or function.

Close relationships

close relationship

A close bond – based on personal affection, on mutual trust or loyalty, or on professional, business or financial interdependence – that extends beyond simply being acquainted.

Examples:

  • close family relationships, such as close family by blood, birth, marriage, adoption, or common-law, any relative or other person permanently residing in the same household
  • close personal relationships, such as close or best friends (people who socialize outside of a work-related context or who have developed longstanding bonds), intimate or romantic partners
    (excludes casual acquaintances or other persons known only through broad social circles or networks)
  • close working relationships, such as prominent or longstanding professional relationship developed by working closely together
    (working for the same entity, employer or client does not, on its own, qualify as having a close relationship; close working relationships typically do not include strictly professional relationships between individuals not connected to the same entity, employer or client)
  • close business relationships, such as owning or closely collaborating in a business or in a consortium of businesses
  • close financial relationships, such as sharing ownership in property, co-managing shared investments

Political work

associate

In relation to ministers and ministers of state, includes:

  • their staff
  • any parliamentary secretary in performing their function of assisting that minister or minister state, as well as the staff of any such parliamentary secretary

In relation to members of the House of Commons or the Senate:

  • includes their staff but excludes their fellow parliamentarians
cooling-off period

When political work – paid or unpaid – has been done for the benefit of an official, the period of time that must pass before lobbying that official or their associates. This period is calculated from the day after the political work ended.

There is a 24-month cooling-off period for having done strategic, high-profile or important political work for a candidate, official or political party.

There is a 12-month cooling-off period for other political work either involving frequent and/or extensive interaction with a candidate or official, or performed on a full-time or near-full-time basis for a candidate, official or political party.

See definition of ‘political work’ for examples.

political work

Paid or unpaid work of a political or partisan nature for a candidate, official or political party during or between election periods.

Political work includes:

  1. strategic, high-profile or important work for a candidate, official or political party.

    Examples:

    • serving as a designated spokesperson
    • serving as a campaign manager
    • serving in a senior position in a leadership or election campaign
    • serving on the executive of an electoral district association
    • preparing a candidate or official for an appearance, including speeches and debates
    • organizing political fundraising
    • organizing political or campaign events
    • directing or coordinating political research or data analysis
    • developing or coordinating political messaging or advertising

    Political work of this nature requires a 24-month cooling-off period.

  2. other political work
    1. involving frequent and/or extensive interaction with a candidate or official, or
    2. performed on a full-time or near-full-time basis for a candidate, official or political party
    Examples:
    • canvassing
    • soliciting or gathering donations
    • distributing or disseminating campaign materials
    • coordinating campaign office logistics
    • performing political research or data analytics tasks
    • carrying out political or campaign event logistics

    Political work of this nature requires a 12-month cooling-off period.

Political work does not include other forms of political participation, such as:

  • attending a fundraising or campaign event
  • personally displaying election signs or posting digital campaign material during an election period
  • being a member of a political party at any level of government in Canada
  • expressing personal political views strictly in an individual capacity or in a private setting
  • making a personal political donation in accordance with the electoral legislative regime

Sense of obligation

sense of obligation

Means a situation where an official feels they owe something or feels beholden to a lobbyist – either as an individual or as a representative of their client or employer.

For the purposes of rules 7.1 and 7.2, examples may include:

  • having employed an official before they became an official
  • employing a close family member of the official
  • having provided frequent or valuable gifts to an official in advance of them becoming an official
Previous draft Code – December 2021 (previous consultation)

Draft update: Lobbyists' Code of Conduct

Standards for transparent and ethical lobbying

Objective and application

Objective

This code of conduct exists to foster transparent and ethical lobbying of federal officials.

By complying with the rules within, lobbyists strengthen the ethical culture of lobbying and contribute to public confidence in the integrity of government institutions and federal decision making.

Application

An individual must comply with this code if the Lobbying Act requires them to do so. In this code, such individuals are referred to as lobbyists.

This code of conduct was published in the Canada Gazette and came into force on [Month D, YYYY].

Scope

This code applies to lobbying activities and the interactions lobbyists have with officials that they lobby or expect to lobby.

Compliance

The rules in this code are the standards against which a lobbyist’s conduct is assessed.

Non-compliance with any rule may result in an investigation by the Commissioner of Lobbying. This can lead to an investigation report tabled in Parliament that is also made public.

Guidance

Lobbyists should consider the expectations set out in this code to resolve any uncertainties as to how a rule applies in a given situation.

Expectations

These expectations are intended to guide lobbyists in complying with the rules within this code.

Transparency

Ethical lobbying requires a commitment to openness. Conducting transparent lobbying ensures that officials understand the purpose of the lobbying and on whose behalf it is carried out.

Respect for government institutions

Canada’s parliamentary democracy and its institutions serve Canadians. Understanding and respecting that officials have a duty to serve the public interest is vital to ethical lobbying.

Integrity and honesty

Ethical lobbying grounded in integrity and honesty upholds the letter and spirit of the Lobbying Act, its Regulations and this code, which in turn supports public confidence in government decision-making.

Rules

If the Lobbying Act requires you to comply with this code, you must follow these rules:

Transparency

1.1

When you lobby officials, identify yourself, your client or employer and the purpose of your communication.

1.2

In all grassroots lobbying appeals to the public, identify your client or employer and the purpose of the communication.

1.3

When you lobby on behalf of a client, inform them that you have, and that they may have, obligations to meet under the Lobbying Act, its Regulations and this code.

1.4

When you lobby as part of your employment, inform your employer (as represented by the registrant) of your lobbying activities in order to support accurate registration and reporting in the Registry of Lobbyists.

1.5

If you are the registrant for an employer, inform employees that lobby of their obligations under this code.

Misinformation

2

Never knowingly misrepresent facts, omit important details or present information that is misleading or false when you lobby officials or in grassroots lobbying appeals to the public.

Gifts

3

Never offer, promise or provide – directly or indirectly – any gift to an official that you lobby or expect to lobby, other than a low-value token of appreciation or promotional item.

Hospitality

4

Never offer – directly or indirectly – hospitality to an official that you lobby or expect to lobby, other than low value food or beverage for consumption during an in-person meeting, event or reception.

Close relationships

5

Never lobby an official with whom you share a close relationship.

Political work

6

Never lobby an official or their associates if you have done political work – paid or unpaid – for the benefit of the official, unless the cooling-off period has expired.

Sense of obligation

7

Never lobby an official where that official could reasonably be seen to have a sense of obligation towards you because of actions you have taken.

Appendix: definitions

The following terms are used in applying the rules:

General terms

client

Any person, group, corporation or organization that pays for a consultant lobbyist to communicate or arrange a meeting with officials on their behalf (i.e. for money or anything of value).

employer

A corporation or organization that employs one or more individuals who communicate with officials on its behalf (i.e. in-house lobbyists).

grassroots lobbying appeal

The communication technique described in paragraph 5(2)(j) and referred to in paragraph 7(3)(k) of the Lobbying Act.

lobby or lobbying

To conduct any activity described in subsections 5(1) and 7(1) of the Lobbying Act.

official

Any 'public office holder' within the meaning of the Lobbying Act.

registrant

The employee holding the most senior paid office of a corporation or organization, who is responsible for registering the lobbying carried out by employees for the employer.

Gifts and hospitality

gift

Anything of value given for free or at a reduced rate, such as money, credit, a loan, a reward, a benefit, a good, a service, entertainment activity, property, use of property, etc. For the purposes of this code, the term ‘gift’ does not include hospitality.

Gifts include — but are not limited to — tickets, passes or access to events, travel, transportation, parking, excursions, gift certificates, vouchers, tokens of appreciation, door prizes, promotional items, samples of products or services, labour, and food or beverage given outside the context of hospitality.

hospitality

Food or beverage provided for consumption during an in-person meeting, event or reception. This does not include vouchers or delivery of food or beverage to officials attending by any means other than in person.

low-value

Means the total market value of a gift or hospitality – without discount for anything that has been donated or subsidized – that can be given in accordance with a rule under this code.

Low-value is set at approximately $30 in 2022 dollars, including taxes.

The Commissioner of Lobbying can take inflation into account in adjusting this amount. In doing so, low value will be calculated relative to 2022 prices based on the consumer price index data maintained by Statistics Canada. The Commissioner can also adjust the low value amount based on local market prices of a particular jurisdiction or remote location.

promotional item

Item typically with a corporate branding or message used in the marketing of a product, service or entity. This includes items such as pens, mugs, notepads, calendars, buttons, bags, totes, data devices, information products, and samples of products or services.

token of appreciation

Item given as an expression of gratitude to an official for serving as a speaker, presenter, panelist, moderator or for performing a ceremonial role at an event or function, such as a book, a gift certificate, a box of chocolates, etc.

Close relationships

close relationship

A close bond with an official that extends beyond simply being acquainted. This includes close family, personal, working, business or financial relationships:

  • family relationships, include close family by blood, marriage, common-law or any other status, or any relative or other person permanently residing in the same household
  • personal relationships (close friends), include sharing a bond of friendship, a feeling of affection, a special kinship that extends beyond simply being acquainted
    (excludes casual acquaintances or other persons known only through broad social circles or networks)
  • working relationships, include having closely collaborated for a common goal or having formed a prominent or longstanding close professional relationship, such as being partners, colleagues or allies in the same office, sitting together on a board of directors, delivering a program or service
    (typically does not include strictly professional working relationships between individuals not representing, employed by or connected to the same entity, employer or client)
  • business relationships, include owning or collaborating in a business or in a consortium of businesses
  • financial relationships, include sharing ownership in property, co-managing shared investments

Political work

associate

In relation to ministers, ministers of state, and parliamentary secretaries:
includes their staff and other parliamentarians (as well as their staff) serving within the same ministerial portfolio.

In relation to members of the House of Commons:
includes their staff but excludes their fellow parliamentarians.

cooling-off period

When you have done political work – paid or unpaid – for the benefit of an official, the period of time that must pass before you can lobby that official or their associates. This period is calculated from the day after the political work ended.

The cooling-off period for having done significant political work is 24 months, which would typically be a sufficient period to reduce a sense of obligation. For other political work, the cooling-off period is 12 months. See definition of ‘political work’ for related examples.

The Commissioner of Lobbying may reduce a cooling-off period if the Commissioner believes that it would not be contrary to the purpose of this code.

political work

Includes paid and unpaid work done for the benefit of a person’s political interests or a political party’s interests, in the form of performing roles or tasks during or between election periods.

For the purposes of the related ‘cooling-off period’ (see definition above), political work will usually be categorized as follows:

  1. significant political work, which includes:
    • serving as a designated spokesperson
    • serving as a campaign manager
    • serving as a key agent, such as chief executive officer, financial agent, electoral district agent, auditor
    • providing direct strategic advice in relation to nominations, fundraising, events, and elections
    • working directly with a candidate to prepare their speeches or to prepare them for debate
    • organizing a political fundraiser for the benefit of a candidate or official
    • performing activities listed in ‘other political work’ below may be considered ‘significant political work’ based on qualitative factors, including, for example, if they are strategically important, their volume is high, their scale is significant or if they involve significant interaction with a candidate or official
  2. other political work (with no significant involvement with a candidate or official), which includes:
    • drafting campaign materials
    • canvassing
    • seeking or gathering donations
    • distributing or disseminating campaign materials
    • coordinating campaign office logistics

Political work does not include other forms of political participation, such as:

  • performing strictly administrative tasks, such as occasional work stuffing envelopes, taking phone messages
  • simply attending a fundraising or campaign event
  • personally displaying election signs or posting digital campaign material during an election period
  • expressing personal political views strictly in an individual capacity
  • making a political donation in accordance with the law
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