May 2, 2012 •
Law Took Effect April 30
On April 30, 2012, the Lobbyists Registration Act came into force in the Canadian province of Manitoba. The act requires lobbyists to file returns using an electronic registry system. Although the act was originally passed in 2008, it came into force only this year upon proclamation, allowing the lobbyist registrar the opportunity to create the system with its online component.
The act categorizes lobbyists as either consultant lobbyists or in-house lobbyists. Consultant lobbyists are individuals who, for pay or other benefit, undertake to lobby on behalf of a client. An in-house lobbyist is defined as an employee, partner, or sole proprietor of an organization who lobbies, or has a duty to lobby, on behalf of the organization. However, to be designated as an in-house lobbyist, an individual’s lobbying or duty to lobby has to constitute a significant part of his or her activities, which the regulations define as meeting or exceeding 100 hours annually. Additionally, if an individual’s lobbying, together with lobbying by others in the organization, meets or exceeds 100 hours annually, the senior officer of the organization must file a return.
The act defines lobby to mean communicating with a public official in an attempt to influence the development of a legislative proposal; introducing a bill or resolution before the assembly; making or amending a regulation; developing, amending, or terminating a program or policy; or awarding a financial benefit. For consultant lobbyists the definition of lobby also includes arranging a meeting with a public official or communicating with a public official in an attempt to influence the award of a contract.
Consultant lobbyists already lobbying before April 30th have 30 days to begin filing. If lobbying begins after April 30th, consultant lobbyists have 10 days to file. A senior officer filing on behalf of an organization with in-house lobbyists has two months in which to file, regardless of whether lobbying begins before or after April 30th. Additionally, the officer must file returns within two months after the end of each six-month period after filing the previous return.
December 6, 2011 •
Refinements Wanted for Ottawa Lobbying Code
The councillors explicitly want the differences between advocacy and lobbying to be delineated in order to exempt advocacy activities from registration. The subcommittee differentiated advocacy activities, “communications that state a position for the purpose of a general community benefit, either city-wide or local,” from lobbying activities, “communications that seek to influence a decision for the direct benefit of an individual or the group they represent.”
The clerk’s office is also directed to develop options for a definition of a community association.
Also unsure of the best manner for the city to handle lobbyist activity disclosure, an additional demand was made of the clerk’s staff to “provide a high level overview of options for disclosure, including pros and cons of disclosure by Public Officials only, disclosure by lobbyists only, and dual disclosure.”
A response to the sub-committee is during sometime in the first quarter of 2012. The Governance Renew Sub-Committee is a sub-committee of the Finance and Economic Development standing committee.
Photo of Ottawa in January by SimonP on Wikipedia.
November 3, 2011 •
Loan Prohibition Proposed
Tim Uppal, Canada’s Minister of State for Democratic Reform has proposed a law which would limit loans available to candidates and political parties.
Under the proposed legislation, loans, loan guarantees, and contributions from individuals would be prohibited from exceeding $1,100 in the aggregate per calendar year. Presently, loans are not treated as part of the annual aggregate limit.
The proposal would also ban loans by unions as well as corporations when the loans are not made in the regular course of business by a financial institution.
October 5, 2011 •
Upcoming and recently held elections
Ontario: According to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website, 39th Parliament of Ontario has been dissolved. General Elections will be held on Thursday, October 6, 2011. You can find out about the election results here.
Yukon: According to the Yukon Legislative Assembly website, a general election to elect the 33rd Legislative Assembly will be held on Tuesday, October 11, 2011.
Recently held elections:
Manitoba: According to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba website, there was a general election on Tuesday, October 4, 2011.
Northwest Territories: According to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories website, there was a general election on Monday, October 3, 2011.
Prince Edward Island: According to the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island website, a general election was held on Monday, October 3, 2011.
June 7, 2011 •
New Brunswick to Debate Lobbying Law in Legislative Assembly
Legislation has been introduced in the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly providing for lobbyist registration and regulation.
Government House leader Paul Robichaud introduced Bill No. 43, the Lobbyists’ Registration Act, in response to a push by members of the Tory party for such a law following the discovery that Liberal party insiders were being hired to arrange meetings for energy companies bidding on provincial contracts.
Under the proposed legislation, lobbyists would be required to register, as well as name any companies they work for and the name of the ministers and departments met with. Lobbyists failing to register or making false or misleading statements would be fined up to $25,000 for a first offense and up to $100,000 for any subsequent offense.
The coat of arms for New Brunswick by Civvì on Wikipeida.
January 17, 2011 •
Quebec Turns Calendar to 2011 to Roll Out Recent Campaign Finance Reform
The first of numerous recent changes to Quebec’s campaign finance law has gone into effect with the turn of the calendar into 2011. Touted as the first major reform in financing Quebec’s political parties since 1977, Assembly Bill 113 effectively lowered the contribution limit a voter may contribute to a party or candidate from $3,000 to $1,000 effective on January 1, 2011. Additional changes are set to take effect on May 1, 2011.
Included in these changes is a requirement for all contributions to first pass through the province’s Chief Electoral Officer, who will then distribute the contribution as directed. Further, in an effort to prevent companies from making contributions in the names of employees, all persons making a contribution will now be required to declare the contribution is made out of the person’s own property and voluntarily.
Finally, additional penalties have been created, including a prohibition for three years on the ability of any natural or legal person convicted of a campaign finance offense to acquire a public contract.
Photo of Québec City by Martin St-Amant on Wikipedia.
November 29, 2010 •
Quebec Government Seeking to Alter Campaign Finance Law
The province of Quebec is seeking to make alterations to campaign finance law in an effort to reduce fraud and restore the confidence of the public in how political parties are financed. Quebec’s government will follow the recommendations of the province’s Chief Electoral Officer and will make amendments to Assembly Bill 113.
In present form, Bill 113 seeks to prevent companies from making contributions to political parties in the names of employees. However, the bill will be amended to permit voters to make annual contributions of a maximum $1,000, reduced from $3,000, to political parties and candidates, and require all contribution checks to first pass through the province’s Chief Electoral Officer, who will then distribute the money to the designated political party or candidate. Further, names of all donors would be made public, a break from current law which requires only the names of those contributing in excess of $200 be publicly available.
Supporters of the measure are touting this as the first major reform in financing Quebec’s political parties since 1977. The provisions of the bill are expected to be adopted prior to the end of the Assembly’s Fall session.
Image of the coat of arms of the Province of Quebec by Jérôme BLUM on Wikipedia.
September 24, 2010 •
The Registry of Lobbyists approved changes to the Lobbyist Registration Act significantly expanding the scope of reportable activities.
Additionally, these officials are now subject to Canada’s five-year “revolving door” restrictions forbidding certain officials from becoming lobbyists.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.