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Province tightens up lobbying rules

David Eby
Attorney General David Eby

A new prohibition coming into force on May 1, 2018, will ban all former public-office holders from lobbying for two years after leaving their position.

The prohibition is one of the amendments to the Lobbyists Registration Amendment Act, 2017, which received Royal Assent on Nov. 30, 2017.

Currently, former public-office holders are not prohibited from lobbying after leaving public office. Senior public officials, who become lobbyists, may have insider knowledge and more influence over former colleagues than lobbyists who did not formerly work as public officials in similar positions.

“The prohibition balances the interests of having well-informed policy-makers who contribute to the democratic process, and ensures a level playing field for all lobbyists,” said Attorney General David Eby, in a news release. “It will eliminate the potential for undue influence, and the improper use of insider knowledge in lobbying.”

The Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists will have the discretion to grant exemptions from this two-year prohibition, on a case-by-case basis, if it is determined to be in the public interest. If the registrar makes an exemption, they must make the terms and conditions, and the reasons for it, accessible to the public. Non-compliance with the prohibition will attract administrative penalties.

Former public-office holders, who will be banned from lobbying, include former cabinet ministers and their staff (excluding administrative personnel); parliamentary secretaries; deputy ministers; ministry CEOs, associate deputy ministers or positions of an equivalent rank, which include the two most senior executive positions, chair and vice-chair of governing bodies at: universities, colleges, school boards, health authority boards, hospitals, workers’ compensation board, and a number of Crown corporations, agencies and associations.

Lobbyists will now be required to register the names of staff of ministers or MLAs they have lobbied, or expect to lobby.

A consultation seeking stakeholder comments on the prohibition and broader Lobbyists Registration Act closed April 20, 2018, with feedback under review by the Ministry of Attorney General.

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