Annual Report 2010–2011

Annex D

Lobbyists' Code of Conduct

Under the Lobbying Act (the Act), the Commissioner of Lobbying is responsible for developing a lobbyists' code of conduct. The current Lobbyists' Code of Conduct (the Code) is the result of extensive consultations with a large number of people and organizations with an interest in promoting public trust in the integrity of government decision-making. The Code, which came into effect on March 1, 1997, is not a statutory instrument. The Commissioner is, however, responsible for enforcement of the Code.

The purpose of the Code is to assure the Canadian public that lobbyists are required to adhere to high ethical standards with a view to conserving and enhancing public confidence and trust in the integrity, objectivity and impartiality of government decision-making. In this regard, the Code complements the disclosure and registration requirements of the Act.

The Code is based on the same four basic principles stated in the Lobbying Act.

  • 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 engaged in lobbying activities.
  • A system for the registration of paid lobbyists should not impede free and open access to government.

The Code is made up of the following three overriding principles followed by eight specific rules:

Principles

Integrity and Honesty

Lobbyists should conduct with integrity and honesty all relations with public office holders, clients, employers, the public and other lobbyists.

Openness

Lobbyists should, at all times, be open and frank about their lobbying activities, while respecting confidentiality.

Professionalism

Lobbyists should observe the highest professional and ethical standards. In particular, lobbyists should conform fully with not only the letter but the spirit of the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct as well as all the relevant laws, including the Lobbying Act and its regulations.

Rules

Transparency

1. Identity and purpose

Lobbyists shall, when making a representation to a public office holder, disclose the identity of the person or organization on whose behalf the representation is made, as well as the reasons for the approach.

2. Accurate information

Lobbyists shall provide information that is accurate and factual to public office holders. Moreover, lobbyists shall not knowingly mislead anyone and shall use proper care to avoid doing so inadvertently.

3. Disclosure of obligations

Lobbyists shall indicate to their client, employer or organization their obligations under the Lobbying Act, and their obligation to adhere to the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct.

Confidentiality

4. Confidential information

Lobbyists shall not divulge confidential information unless they have obtained the informed consent of their client, employer or organization, or disclosure is required by law.

5. Insider information

Lobbyists shall not use any confidential or other insider information obtained in the course of their lobbying activities to the disadvantage of their client, employer or organization.

Conflict of interest

6. Competing interests

Lobbyists shall not represent conflicting or competing interests without the informed consent of those whose interests are involved.

7. Disclosure

Consultant lobbyists shall advise public office holders that they have informed their clients of any actual, potential or apparent conflict of interest, and obtained the informed consent of each client concerned before proceeding or continuing with the undertaking.

8. Improper influence

Lobbyists shall not place public office holders in a conflict of interest by proposing or undertaking any action that would constitute an improper influence on a public office holder.