A Guide to Registration
Purpose of this guide
This guide has been developed to provide general information about the Lobbying Act (the Act). It provides guidance regarding when and how to register. It is intended to cover all three categories of lobbyists: consultant lobbyists, in-house lobbyists (organizations) and in-house lobbyists (corporations). Separate, more specific guides are also available for each category of lobbyists on the Website of the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbyists (OCL).
Individuals who are paid to communicate with federal public office holders (POHs) with regard to matters listed in sections 5 and 7 of the Act – i.e. to lobby — may be subject to the disclosure requirements established in the Lobbying Act.
We have endeavoured to answer as many questions as possible pertaining to the Lobbying Act and the Lobbyists Registration Regulations (the Regulations). However, it should be noted that this guide is not a legal document. For additional information, refer to the Lobbying Act, Regulations and Code of Conduct section of this Web site. You may also wish to read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) also published on the OCL's Web site.
Facts about the Lobbying Act
Four basic principles are set out in the preamble to the 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; and
- The system for the registration of paid lobbyists should not impede free and open access to government.
The old Lobbyists Registration Act originally came into force on September 30, 1989 and was amended in 1995, 1996 and again in 2005. The latest amendments came into force on July 2, 2008. The latest amendments changed the name of the legislation to the Lobbying Act, replaced the position of Registrar of Lobbyists with the position of the Commissioner of Lobbying, who now reports directly to Parliament, and provided the Commissioner with enhanced investigative powers and an education mandate.
Among other important changes, the Act introduced the concept of designated public office holders (DPOH), who are individuals occupying senior or important positions within the government and who will be subject to a 5-year lobbying prohibition. Moreover, pre-arranged verbal communications between a lobbyist and a DPOH will need to be disclosed by the lobbyist on a monthly basis, except in certain cases when the communication was initiated by a DPOH. The Lobbying Act also states that DPOHs and former DPOHs may be asked by the Commissioner to verify the disclosure, filed by lobbyists or registrants, of certain lobbying activities.
The Act also includes a ban on paying to lobbyists or lobbyists accepting contingency or success fees. As for stricter enforcement provisions, lobbyists may be subject to double the amount of monetary penalties for breaches of the Act.