Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault
Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics
House of Commons
Dear Mr. Dusseault:
House of Commons Standing Order 109, on behalf of the Government of Canada, I
am pleased to provide the Government’s Response to the recommendations of the
Third Report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and
Ethics, Statutory Review of the Lobbying Act: Its First Five Years.
Act is a key component of the 2006 Federal Accountability Act.
Through the Lobbying Act, the Government has clarified and strengthened
the rules around lobbying and delivered greater accountability and transparency
to Canadians. I would like to thank the Committee for its work on this
important legislation. The Committee is to be commended
for expeditiously undertaking its review and considering a variety of
Act seeks to achieve a balance between maintaining public confidence in
government decision-making and ensuring free and open access to government. At
the same time, the Lobbying Act balances the need for transparency with
minimizing the administrative burden on small- and medium-sized enterprises as
well as charities and other not-for-profit organizations. In the Government’s
view, maintaining these balances is an essential requirement as changes are
review provided the opportunity to examine the Lobbying Act to
ensure it is providing the clarity Canadians rightly seek in regard to who is
communicating with government officials on important matters. As the Committee
noted in its report, the overall tenor of the testimony suggested that the Lobbying
Act is working well and in accordance with its objectives.
In responding to
the Committee’s eleven recommendations for changes to the Lobbying Act,
the Government is striving to improve the transparency and accountability aims
of the legislation while maintaining balance amongst the Act’s objectives.
the Government supports:
- Committee recommendation # 5: Ensure monthly
communications reports contain the names of in-house lobbyists who attended
oral pre-arranged meetings [in addition to the senior reporting officer.] In the Government’s view, this proposal would increase the accuracy of these
reports without unduly increasing administrative burdens and provide Canadians
with further transparency around who is actually lobbying Government.
- Committee Recommendation # 9: The five-year
ban should be retained, and post-employment restrictions on public office
holders should be interpreted and administered by a single authority. In
the Government’s view, consolidating the post-employment restrictions on public
office holders under a single authority could bring further clarity to the
post-employment regime for public office holders. The Government will consider
this matter further, taking into account any associated recommendations from
the required Parliamentary-led legislative review of the Conflict of
concurs with the intent of the following Committee recommendations and will
consider means of implementing them that maximizes their effectiveness while
minimizing administrative burden.
- Committee recommendation # 1: All public servants serving in a
Director General’s position, or serving in a more senior position than Director
General, should now be considered Designated Public Office Holders and held subject
to all applicable laws governing this designation. The Government
accepts the intent of the recommendation and will examine how best to frame and
define positions that could be categorized as having characteristics consistent
with those of Designated Public Office Holders, including, but not limited to,
influence over the procurement process or oversight and decision making power.
- Committee recommendation # 3: Eliminate the
distinction between in-house lobbyists (corporations) and in-house lobbyists
(organizations). The Government will eliminate the distinction
between in-house lobbyists (corporations) and in-house lobbyists
(organizations), by applying the ‘significant part of duties’ threshold to both
equally with respect to the post-employment prohibitions contained in the Lobbying
Act. This will introduce greater fairness to the treatment of in-house
- Committee recommendation # 4: Require
in-house lobbyists to file a registration, along with the senior officer. The Government is of the view that senior officers should not be unduly
compromised in the event that in-house lobbyists working for them do not report
their activities and will therefore explore options to make it an offence in
the Lobbying Act for an employee to engage in lobbying if the senior
officer has not registered the employee.
- Committee Recommendation # 6: Allow board
members (corporations and association directors), partners and sole proprietors
to be included in an in-house lobbyist’s returns. Placing accountability
for registering the lobbying activities of non-employee board members with the
senior officer of corporations and organizations and having them included in an
in-house lobbyist’s return would provide a clear statutory basis for
registration and further transparency under the legislation. At the same time,
the Government remains committed to safeguarding the rights of individuals,
such as partners and sole proprietors, to communicate unencumbered with public
officials on their own interests, preserving the principle of free and open
access to government.
- Committee recommendation # 7: Impose an
explicit ban on the receipt of gifts from lobbyists. The Government is of
the view that interactions between lobbyists and
public officials must continue to meet high ethical standards. The Government will therefore consider making it more explicit to
lobbyists that they must not place public office holders in a real or perceived
conflict of interest. Specifically, the Government will prohibit, under the Lobbying Act, lobbyists from
giving gifts to public office holders. This will include providing clarity regarding the nature and value of gifts such that lobbyists will
know the standards they will be expected to meet.
- Committee recommendation # 8: Prohibit an
individual or entity from lobbying the government on a subject matter, if they
have a contract to provide advice to a public office holder on the same subject
matter. The Government remains committed to providing Canadians with
transparency and accountability with respect to government contracting
processes and rules. Any potential advantages and benefits that accrue from an
individual’s contractual obligations with government should not be used by them
in the context of paid lobbying they may undertake. A prohibition should be
placed on individuals lobbying on the same subject matter for which they have a
contract to provide advice to a public office holder on the same subject
matter. In the case of an entity, the same prohibition should apply unless
safeguards to avoid a conflict of interest are verifiably in place within their
takes note of the following Committee recommendations and will continue to
study them carefully:
- Committee recommendation # 2: Remove the ‘significant part of
duties’ threshold for in-house lobbyists.
- Committee recommendation # 10: Enshrine the
administrative review process in the Act.
- Committee recommendation # 11: Empower the
Commissioner of Lobbying to impose administrative monetary penalties. Perhaps
consider temporary bans for breaches of the law (as in the Newfoundland and
Labrador and Quebec provincial legislation).
remains committed to ensuring that lobbying activities are undertaken in a
transparent manner and will initiate steps to move forward with those Committee
recommendations it supports such that Canada’s legislative regime remains
leading edge and among the most robust governance systems regulating lobbying.
would like to take this opportunity to thank you and the members of the
Standing Committee for your work.
The Honourable Tony Clement, P.C., M.P.