Annual Report on the Application of the Act and the Code — 2008–2009

The Lobbying Act

A. Purpose and Description

The Lobbying Act provides for the public registration of those individuals who are paid to communicate with public office holders (POHs) with regard to certain matters as described in the legislation. Public office holders are defined in the Act as virtually all persons occupying an elected or appointed position in the Government of Canada, including members of the House of Commons and the Senate and their staff, as well as officers and employees of federal departments and agencies, members of the Canadian Forces and members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The preamble to the Act sets out four basic principles pertaining to the registration of lobbyists:

  • Free and open access to government is an important matter of public interest;
  • Lobbying public office holders is a legitimate activity;
  • It is desirable that public office holders and the public be able to know who is attempting to influence government;
  • A system for the registration of paid lobbyists should not impede free and open access to government.

Individuals must be registered if they lobby, i.e., if they communicate with federal POHs, for payment, whether formally or informally, with regard to:

  • the making, developing or amending of federal legislative proposals, bills or resolutions, regulations, policies or programs; or
  • the awarding of federal grants, contributions or other financial benefits; and
  • in the case of consultant lobbyists, the awarding of a federal government contract and arranging a meeting between their client and a POH.
  • The Lobbying Act provides for the following three categories of lobbyists:

Consultant Lobbyists

Consultant lobbyists are individuals who are paid to lobby on behalf of a client. Consultant lobbyists may be government-relations consultants, lawyers, accountants or other professional advisors who provide lobbying services for their clients. They must file a registration for each individual undertaking (i.e., for each mandate).

In-House Lobbyists (Corporations)

In-house lobbyists (corporations) are employees of corporations that carry on commercial activities for financial gain and who lobby as a significant part of their duties. These employees are usually full-time officers who devote a significant part of their duties to public affairs or government-relations work. As the registrant, the most senior paid officer must register the corporation if the total lobbying activity of all employees equals 20 percent or more of the duties of one equivalent full-time employee. The registration must include the names of all senior officers (the most senior officer and all its direct reports) who engage in any lobbying activity, as well as the name of any employee who individually devotes a significant part of his or her duties to lobbying activities.

In-House Lobbyists (organizations)

In-house lobbyists (organizations) are employees of non-profit organizations, such as associations, charities and foundations. As the registrant, the most senior paid officer of such an organization must register the names of all employees engaged in lobbying activities if the total lobbying activity of all such employees equals 20 percent or more of the duties of one equivalent full-time employee.

All three categories of lobbyists are required to disclose certain information within time limits specified in the Act. This information includes:

  • names of their clients, or corporate or organizational employers;
  • names of the parent or subsidiary companies that would benefit from the lobbying activity;
  • organizational members of coalition groups;
  • specific subject matters of lobbying;
  • names of the federal departments or agencies contacted;
  • sources and amounts of any public funding received; and
  • communication techniques used, such as meetings, telephone calls or grass-roots lobbying.

Although their reporting requirements slightly differ, corporations and organizations must also provide general descriptions of their business or activities.

B. New Regulations

The Lobbying Act authorizes the Governor in Council to make regulations to set out the measures necessary to enable lobbyists to comply with the registration requirements of the Act, to assist the Commissioner in his or her mandate to oversee the enforcement of the Act, and to ensure adherence to all aspects of the lobbyists' registration regime.

The Designated Public Office Holder Regulations prescribed various positions in the Canadian Forces and the Privy Council Office, as well as the Comptroller General of Canada, so that the persons occupying the positions would be included as "designated public office holders" (DPOHs) under the Lobbying Act. The Lobbying Act defined DPOHs to include ministers, ministers of state and certain staff members, deputy heads, associate deputy heads and assistant deputy ministers and those of comparable ranks throughout the public service. The Regulations extended this definition to include eleven further positions or classes of positions.

  • Chief of the Defence Staff
  • Vice Chief of the Defence Staff
  • Chief of Maritime Staff
  • Chief of Land Staff
  • Chief of Air Staff
  • Chief of Military Personnel
  • Judge Advocate General
  • Any position of Senior Advisor in the Privy Council to which the office holder is appointed by the Governor in Council
  • Deputy Minister (Intergovernmental Affairs) Privy Council Office
  • Comptroller General of Canada
  • Any position to which the Office holder is appointed pursuant to paragraph to 127.1 (1) (a) or (b) of the Public Service Employment Act.

The Lobbyists Registration Regulations set the form and manner in which lobbyists must file returns required by the Lobbying Act. Returns disclose information regarding their lobbying activities. The Regulations also set out additional information to be disclosed in returns, beyond what is required by the Lobbying Act. They set the time frames to respond to a request by the Commissioner for correction or clarification of information submitted in returns. The Regulations also describe the type of communication that will trigger monthly returns.