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Toughening the Lobbyists Registration Act

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On April 11, 2006, the Government of Canada introduced the Federal Accountability Act and Action Plan, delivering on its commitment to make government more accountable. The Federal Accountability Act received Royal Assent on December 12, 2006. This is one of a series of fact sheets describing proposed actions to respond to this commitment.

The context

Lobbying is a legitimate part of our democratic system, but weaknesses with the Lobbyists Registration Act were identified. For example, compliance with registration requirements was low, the information disclosed was insufficient, and the Registrar of Lobbyists has lacked the necessary independence, powers, and resources to conduct effective investigations of possible infractions under the Lobbyists Registration Act.

What this means for Canadians

These changes will give the Commissioner of Lobbying the independence and necessary powers to ensure that lobbying is done in a transparent and ethical way. Canadians will be reassured that former designated public office holders do not use their personal connections to obtain special favours from government once they leave office, and that conflict of interest situations do not arise while they hold office.

The Action Plan

The Government of Canada is taking steps to assure Canadians that lobbying is done in an ethical and transparent way. Specifically, the Federal Accountability Act will:

  • establish a new Commissioner of Lobbying as an independent Agent of Parliament;
  • provide the Commissioner with enhanced investigative powers and mandate to enforce compliance with the proposed Lobbying Act;
  • prohibit ministers, ministerial staffers, transition team members and senior public servants from registering and lobbying the Government of Canada for five years after leaving office;
  • ban any payment or other benefit contingent on the outcome of a consultant lobbyist’s activity, and require all government contracts and agreements to state that contingency fees will not be paid;
  • require that contacts with designated public office holders be recorded; and
  • double the monetary penalties for lobbyists who fail to comply with the requirements of the Lobbying Act.

In order to bring changes to the Lobbying Act into force, regulations are required to set out the administrative measures necessary for lobbyists to comply with the new requirements of the Act.  The Government initiated a consultation process in March 2007 on regulations necessary to implement the new Lobbying Act.  Specifically, these regulations are necessary to prescribe:

  • the form and manner of all returns, including the new monthly returns for consultant lobbyists and in-house lobbyists;
  • the type of lobbying activity to be reported on in a monthly return; and
  • the details on the subject-matter and other information that may be required in a monthly return.

For more information

For more information on this specific measure, please refer to the relevant section of the Action Plan, or contact us.

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