Public Affairs Association of Canada Comments on the Proposed changes to Ontario's Lobbyists Registration Act, 1998

TORONTO, July 26, 2012 /CNW/ - On July 25, 2012, the Ontario Government stated that it is proposing changes to the rules governing the disclosure of lobbying activity in Ontario. The objective of the proposed legislative changes is to increase transparency and accountability in the conduct of lobbying activity. The proposed changes include:

  1. Giving the Integrity Commissioner/Lobbyist Registrar more enforcement powers, including the ability to prohibit individuals from lobbying;
  2. Providing the Integrity Commissioner/Lobbyist Registrar new investigative powers, including the ability to compel testimony and obtain key documents;
  3. Requiring lobbyists to identify the specific MPP and ministers' offices they lobby;
  4. Preventing lobbyists from accepting success or contingency fee's;
  5. Prohibiting lobbyists from providing paid advice to a ministry and lobbying on the same subject matter;
  6. Providing the Integrity Commissioner/Lobbyist Registrar with the ability to establish a lobbyist code of conduct;
  7. Incorporating for-profit and not-for-profit organizations under the same category of 'in-house' lobbyists, treating both classes of lobbyists the same and capturing more lobbying activity.

The Public Affairs Association of Canada (PAAC) welcomes these proposed changes. In fact, the PAAC has made several similar recommendations recently in its submission to the federal government's review of its lobbying disclosure legislation such as establishing a level playing field for in-house lobbyists. "Lobbying is critical to the successful development of sound public policy", says John Capobianco, Chair of the PAAC. "The PAAC firmly believes that these proposed changes will increase the transparency of our activities and will enhance the legitimacy of lobbying in Ontario".

The PAAC is, however, concerned about the proposal to give the Integrity Commissioner new powers to impose administrative monetary penalties and potentially imposing temporary bans on those lobbyists found in breach of the law. "We want to make sure that imposing administrative monetary penalties is used as a last resort, when all other efforts to ensure compliance have been exhausted", says John Capobianco. "We also want to make sure the investigative powers used by the Commissioner respect due process, the norms of procedural and administrative justice and the Charter Rights".

"The PAAC looks forward to working with the government of Ontario as it moves its proposed legislative changes forward".

The PAAC is a national, not for profit organization founded in 1984. Its principal objective is to help public affairs professionals succeed in their work by providing forums for professional development, the exchange of new ideas and networking. PAAC also advocates on issues that directly impact its members.

SOURCE: Public Affairs Association of Canada

For further information:

John Capobianco
416-727-7969 (cell)

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