A Guide to Registration (Page 2 of 7)

General Information about Lobbyist Registration

Registry of Lobbyists

All information collected under the Lobbying Act, the Lobbyists Registration Regulations and the Designated Public Office Holder Regulations is a matter of public record. The objective of the Registry is to ensure transparency of lobbying activities, so that the general public, the media and public office holders may know who is lobbying the government, for what purpose and in who's interests.

The information published in the Registry is publicly available on the Internet via the on-line Lobbyists Registration System or by writing, calling or visiting the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying, located at 255 Albert Street, 10th Floor, in Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0R5. In order to protect privacy, lobbyists and registrants should ensure they do not inadvertently provide information that is not required under the Act and the Regulations.

Public Office Holder (POH)

Lobbying involves individuals who are paid to communicate with Public Office Holders (POHs) with regard to certain matters stated in the Act. A POH is defined broadly in the Lobbying Act as "any officer or employee of Her Majesty in right of Canada." This includes:

  • Members of the Senate or the House of Commons (Senators, Members of Parliament, Ministers) and their staff;
  • Persons appointed to an office by a Minister of the Crown or the Governor in Council;
  • An officer director or employee of any federal board, commission or other tribunal;
  • Members of the Canadian Armed Forces;
  • Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; and
  • Employees of federal departments.

Designated Public Office Holders (DPOHs)

Designated public office holders (DPOHs) constitute a category within the broader group of federal officials defined as public office holders (POHs) by the Lobbying Act. Designated public office holders include:

  • A Minister of the Crown or a minister of state or their exempt staff appointed pursuant to subsection 128(1) of the Public Service Employment Act;
  • Any other public office holder who works for a department and occupies a senior executive position, such as deputy minister (DM), associate deputy minister, assistant deputy minister (ADM) and chief executive officer (CEO), or a position of comparable rank, as well as any other individual who is designated by regulation.

The Commissioner has the responsibility of establishing criteria to be used in order to determine if a particular POH position is equivalent to DPOH positions such as deputy minister, associate deputy minister, assistant deputy minister or chief executive officer.

The first eleven positions or classes of positions were designated by way of regulation on July 2, 2008:

  • Chief of the Defence Staff (Canadian Forces)
  • Vice Chief of the Defence Staff (Canadian Forces)
  • Chief of Maritime Staff (Canadian Forces)
  • Chief of Land Staff (Canadian Forces)
  • Chief of Air Staff (Canadian Forces)
  • Chief of Military Personnel (Canadian Forces)
  • Judge Advocate General (Canadian Forces)
  • Any positions of Senior Advisor to the Privy Council Office 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 127.1(a) or (b) of the Public Service Employment Act

The next three positions or classes of positions were designated by way of regulation on September 20, 2010:

  • Members of Parliament
  • Members of the Senate
  • Any staff working in the offices of the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons or in the Senate, appointed pursuant to subsection 128(1) of the Public Service Employment Act.

Members of transition teams

Subsection 2(3) of the Lobbying Act defines members of a Prime Minister's transition team as:

"Any person identified by the Prime Minister as having had the task of providing support and advice to him or her during the transition period leading up to the swearing in of the Prime Minister and his or her ministry is subject to the Act, except subsections 10.11(2) to (4), as if the person were a designated public office holder during that period."

This definition applies to all individuals who have been members of a Prime Minister's transition team since January 24, 2006. They are subject to the Lobbying Act's five-year prohibition on lobbying activities and can submit requests for exemption from the prohibition to the Commissioner of Lobbying.

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Who does not need to register?

The Act excludes the following public officials from registration as lobbyists when they are acting in their official capacity:

  • Members of the legislature of a province or territory or their staff;
  • Employees of provincial and territorial governments;
  • Members of local or municipal governments or their staff;
  • Employees of local or municipal governments;
  • Members of the council of a band as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Indian Act or of the council of an Indian band established by an Act of Parliament, or their staff;
  • Members of an aboriginal government or institution that exercises jurisdiction or authority under a self-government agreement, or self-government provisions contained in a land-claims agreement given by or under an Act of Parliament, their staff or members or employees of that government or institution;
  • Diplomatic agents, consular officers, or official representatives in Canada of foreign governments; and
  • Officials of a specialized agency of the United Nations or officials of any other international organization granted privileges and immunities by Parliament.

Note: If any of the above public officials or their organizations hire and pay third-party consultants to lobby on their behalf, these consultant lobbyists may be subject to the usual registration requirements.

The Act does not apply to:

  • Any oral or written submission made to any committee of either House of Parliament, or to any organization created by an Act of Parliament, in proceedings that are a matter of public record;
  • Any oral or written communication with a POH by a person on behalf of a person or organization with respect to enforcement, interpretation or application of any Act of Parliament or regulation, concerning the person or organization;
  • Any oral or written communication with a POH by a person on behalf of a person or organization, provided the communication is restricted to a request for information; or
  • Unpaid volunteers who lobby on behalf of individuals or organizations, such as universities or colleges.
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Who must register?

The registration requirements for the three categories of lobbyists can be summarized as follows:

Consultant lobbyists

Generally, these are individuals who, for payment, lobby for one or more clients. Moreover, this category also includes paid members of associations who lobby on behalf of associations to which they belong, as well as paid external members of Board of Directors who lobby on behalf of corporations or organizations for which they are Directors and that they have identified as their client.

Individuals who must file a disclosure (also referred to as a return) as consultant lobbyists must submit it within 10 days of entering into a lobbying undertaking, i.e. after they accept, either verbally or in writing, to lobby. Every month, consultant lobbyists must file a monthly communications report about arranged oral communications they may have had with federal Designated Public Office Holders (DPOHs) and/or about any changes that could have occurred in relation with their lobbying activities.

Those disclosures must be filed no later than 15 days after the end of every month. If no monthly report has been filed for 5 consecutive months following the end of the month in which a return was last filed, then a "six-month return" must be filed and certified by the lobbyist before the 15th day of the month following this period1.

In-house corporate lobbyists

These are individuals employed by for-profit corporations (entities who carry out commercial activities for financial gain). A corporation must register when the collective time devoted to lobbying activities by all of its employees reaches or exceeds, when added up, 20% of the duties of a single equivalent paid employee of the corporation over a monthly reporting period.

It is the most senior paid officer employed by the corporation (the Registrant) who is responsible and accountable for completing and filing an in-house corporate lobbyists' disclosure (or return) for the whole corporation. It must include the name of all employees who need to be registered as in-house corporate lobbyists. The initial disclosure must be filed within 2 months from the day the corporation begins to lobby.

Subsequently, monthly communications reports will need to be filed with respect to certain prescribed communications (i.e. oral and arranged communications) between any employee of the corporation and DPOHs, or to report changes to the information included in the registration of the corporation no later than 15 days after the end of every month. If no monthly communications report has been filed for 5 consecutive months following the end of the month in which a disclosure or report was last filed, then a "six-month return" must be filed and certified by the Registrant2.

In-house organization lobbyists

These are not-for-profit organizations (charities, associations, learning institutions, etc) in which one or more paid employees lobby, and the collective time devoted to lobbying amounts to 20% or more of a single equivalent paid employee's time.

The most senior paid officer employed by the organization (the Registrant) is responsible and accountable for completing and filing an in-house organization lobbyists' disclosure (or return) for the whole organization within 2 months of when the organization begins to lobby, and to register the organization with the Commissioner of Lobbying.

Note that volunteers are not required to be registered given that a necessary condition to be a lobbyist is to be paid or to expect to be paid over and above the reimbursement of reasonable expenses such as travel. One notable exception, however, relates to individuals who are remunerated employees of corporations that are themselves members of trade, industrial or other associations. Those individuals, as part of their duties, sometimes participate in lobbying activities coordinated by such organizations. In cases such as those, the individuals' lobbying activities should be disclosed by their employers, subject to all other applicable registration requirements.

Subsequently, monthly returns need to be filed with respect to communications with DPOHs or to report changes to the organization's registration no later than 15 days after the end of every month. If no monthly report has been filed for 5 consecutive months following the end of the month in which a return was last filed, then a "six-month return" must be filed and certified by the lobbyist3.

More detailed information on the registration requirements for the three categories of lobbyists is provided in the next three sections.