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Consultation on future changes to the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct

Current status: Open

Started on November 2, 2020 and will close on December 11, 2020.

About this consultation

The Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying has launched a six-week consultation period to seek input to inform future changes to the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct. From November 2, 2020 until December 11, 2020, we invite you to share your views and perspectives on the standards of behaviour that lobbyists must follow in their lobbying of federal public office holders.

The Commissioner of Lobbying is an independent Agent of Parliament responsible for regulating lobbying at the federal level. When developing or amending the Code, the Commissioner of Lobbying consults with interested stakeholders. Effective implementation of codes of conduct requires education and continuous improvement.

Background

Established under federal lobbying legislation, the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct has existed since 1997. This mandatory code of ethics defines behaviour standards that lobbyists must respect when they engage in lobbying activities at the federal level in Canada. The Code was updated in 2015, and recent investigation reports highlight that further improvements are warranted (see: Recent observations and references).

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 Commissioner of Lobbying may investigate alleged breaches of the Code and reports publicly to Parliament on Code compliance in accordance with the Lobbying Act.

The Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct is a non-statutory tool that compliments the Lobbying Act’s registration requirements and serves to reinforce transparent and ethical lobbying practice.

Join in: how to participate

Send your comments by email to engagement@lobbycanada.gc.ca and indicate ‘Code consultation’ in the subject line. Unless you ask us not to, we plan to publish the submissions we receive on this webpage after the consultation period ends.

Key themes for discussion

We welcome your views on improvements to the standards of conduct for lobbyists. Please share your thoughts, concerns, and suggestions on the following:

Context and principles

The current Code begins with an introduction and preamble, and establishes four principles setting out the broader goals and objectives of the Code.

Transparency and use of information

The current Code includes rules related to transparency – identity and purpose (rule 1), accurate information (rule 2), and the duty to disclose (rules 3 and 4) – and the use of information (rule 5).

Conflicts of interest

The current Code includes a general prohibition that lobbyists not propose or undertake actions that would place public office holders in real or apparent conflicts of interest (rule 6). More specific formulations of this general prohibition are provided in four related rules: preferential access (rules 7 and 8), political activities (rule 9), and gifts (rule 10).

Preferential access

The existing preferential access prohibitions (rules 7 and 8) aim to prevent conflicts of interest that could arise through shared relationships.

Political activities

The existing lobbying restriction respecting political activities (rule 9) aims to prevent conflicts of interest that could arise in situations where political activities have been undertaken on behalf of public office holders.

Gifts and hospitality

The existing gift restriction (rule 10) aims to prevent conflicts of interest that could arise from lobbyists providing public office holders – that they are lobbying or will lobby – with gifts/favours/other benefits that public office holders are not allowed to accept. Related guidance addresses circumstances in which giving gifts, hospitality and other benefits may create a sense of obligation.

Other input and comments

Share with us any other ideas or feedback you may have, including whether any rules should be added.

Recent observations and references

The Commissioner of Lobbying has issued investigation reports including analysis and observations regarding the Code’s current conflict of interest rules:

Sponsored travel provided by lobbyists (April 2019)

  • Includes analysis of the relationship between the conflict of interest rule (#6) and the more-specific requirements detailed in the rules about preferential access (#7 and 8), political activities (#9), and gifts (#10).
  • Includes analysis of a specific fact-scenario related to the gifts rule (#10) and circumstances where lobbyists offer sponsored travel to parliamentarians.

Related reports on conflicts of interest: 1st report and 2nd report (March 2020)

  • Observe a need to consider amending the conflict of interest rules to focus exclusively on the specific behaviours of lobbyists without importing the conflict of interest regimes covering public office holders.
  • Observe a need to consider expanding the scope of application of the political activities rule (#9).

Next steps

Once the consultation period ends, we will prepare a global summary of what we heard from stakeholders and publish the submissions we received on this page. Our work will then focus on drafting Code improvements, a process that may involve reaching out to stakeholders for further input and validation. Depending on the degree of change contemplated by the Commissioner of Lobbying, a further round of consultation may be initiated in 2021.

Ultimately, an updated Code will be referred to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics and then be published in the Canada Gazette and on lobbycanada.gc.ca.

We will use this page to keep lobbyists and other stakeholders up-to-date with key dates along the way, including when we expect an updated Code to take effect. Resources will be in place to support lobbyists in complying with their responsibilities under the Code.

Contact information

Laura Langeveld
Outreach officer – Registration, policy, and public affairs
engagement@lobbycanada.gc.ca


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