Report on Investigation — The Lobbying Activities of Will Stewart (Page 2 of 7)

The Lobbyists' Code of Conduct

Lobbying is a legitimate activity. When carried out ethically and transparently, and in conformity with the highest standards of conduct, it can enhance the dialogue between Canadians, businesses and organizations and government.

The Lobbyists' Code of Conduct (the Code) came into effect on March 1, 1997, as a complement to the former Lobbyists Registration Act (the LRA). It was instituted to assure Canadians that the lobbying of federal public office holders is carried out in a manner that ensures public confidence and trust in the integrity, objectivity and impartiality of government decision-making. Individuals who engaged in activity deemed registrable under the Lobbying Act (the Act), must also comply with the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct.

During the period covered by this report, individuals paid to communicate, or arrange meetings, with public office holders were required to register in the Registry of Lobbyists. Public office holders are defined as being virtually anyone occupying a position in the Government of Canada; including members of the Senate and the House of Commons and their staff, as well as employees of federal departments and agencies, members of the Canadian Forces and members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The Lobbyists' Code of Conduct establishes mandatory standards of conduct for individuals who engage in activity deemed registrable under the Act. Like most professional codes, the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct begins with a preamble that states its purpose and places it in a broader context. Next, a body of overriding principles sets out, in positive terms, the goals and objectives to be achieved, without establishing precise standards. The principles of Integrity, Honesty, Openness and Professionalism are set out as goals that should be pursued, and are intended as general guidance.

The principles are followed by a series of eight rules that place specific obligations and requirements on lobbyists. The rules are organized into three categories: Transparency, Confidentiality, and Conflict of Interest. Under the rules of Transparency, lobbyists have an obligation to provide accurate information to public office holders, and to disclose the identity of the persons or organizations on whose behalf their representation is made, as well as the purpose of the representation. They must also disclose to their clients, employers or organizations their obligations under the Lobbying Act and the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct. Under the rules of Confidentiality, lobbyists may not divulge confidential information, nor use insider information to the disadvantage of their clients, employers or organizations. The Conflict of Interest rules prohibit lobbyists from representing conflicting or competing interests without the consent of those whose interests are involved, or placing public office holders in a conflict of interest by proposing or undertaking any action that would constitute an improper influence.

Investigations of Alleged Breaches of the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct

Lobbyists have a legal obligation to comply with the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct. Under the Lobbying Act, the Commissioner is required to conduct an investigation if the Commissioner has reason to believe that an investigation is necessary to ensure compliance with the Act or the Code, as applicable.

Breaches of the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct do not carry fines or jail sentences, but the Commissioner's report of the investigation — including the findings, conclusions, and reasons for those conclusions — must be tabled before both Houses of Parliament. There is no limitation period for investigating breaches of the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct.

Rule 8 of the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct reads as follows:

Rule 8 — Improper Influence (Conflict of Interest)

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.

Rule 8 of the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct (the Code) has not changed since the Code first came into effect in 1997. However, the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal in Democracy Watch v. Campbell et al.. had the effect of changing the manner in which Rule 8 of the Code must be interpreted. This decision has led me to provide guidance to lobbyists regarding the interpretation of Rule 8, which I consider to be consistent with the ruling of the Federal Court of Appeal. I provided lobbyists with my Guidance on Conflict of Interest — Rule 8 (Lobbyists' Code of Conduct) in November 2009.2 This led to discussion and dialogue with lobbyists regarding the interpretation and application of Rule 8, and I provided a further clarification regarding Political Activities in August 2010.3 This Guidance and the Clarifications were provided to lobbyists following the events that this Report addresses. I have considered the fact that Mr. Stewart did not have the benefit of my Guidance to help assist him in evaluating his lobbying activities in consideration of his political activities.

The following Report on Investigation concerns a particular political fundraising event that occurred about six months after the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal in Democracy Watch v. Campbell et al.


2 – Commissioner's Guidance on Conflict of Interest — Rule 8 (Lobbyists' Code of Conduct), November 2009 Return to reference 2

3 – Clarifications about political activities in the context of Rule 8, August 2010 Return to reference 3