Proposed Changes in Canadian Lobbying Laws - State and Federal Communications

January 3, 2014  •  

Proposed Changes in Canadian Lobbying Laws

You Should KnowIf you’re planning to lobby north of the border, there are a number of changes on the horizon you should be aware of. This fall saw quite a bit of activity for Canadian lobbying legislation, with two provinces introducing laws to create a lobbyist registration framework and one making substantial changes to its existing law.

Saskatchewan’s Lobbyist Act would create a registrar of lobbyists, provide requirements for filing returns, which is the Canadian term for the filing for both registrations and reports, and establish definitions and penalties. The act also provides for online filing of returns. The legislation is based on the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs and Justice issued in 2012.

Similarly, New Brunswick’s Lobbyists Registration Act establishes a basic framework for filing returns and penalties for violations.  Prior attempts at creating a lobbyist registry failed in both 2007 and 2011. Saskatchewan and New Brunswick are two of the last three Canadian provinces without lobbying laws; the three Canadian territories also do not have lobbying laws. Both governments cited a desire for providing more transparency for their citizens as the impetus for the legislation.

Ontario introduced an Act to Amend the Lobbyists Registration Act, giving a new definition for grassroots lobbying, giving more specificity on what constitutes an undertaking to lobby, requiring in-house lobbyists to file monthly reports if the lobbying is directed at a high level public office holder, and adding a requirement to report campaign contributions made under the Election Finances Act. Additional changes include revolving door restrictions and changes to penalties. The bill is currently in the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills.

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