As public affairs professionals and consultants or in-house government relations professionals, our focus is on providing context, clarifying the issues, verifying the facts and connecting Canadians with their government. Our work contributes to quality public policy, the creation of jobs, the encouragement of innovation, and meaningful dialogue between citizens, businesses, interest groups and governments.
A list of GRIC’s latest submissions and other items of interest is presented below. Tous les textes ne sont pas disponibles dans les deux langues officielles. Nous nous excusons de cet inconvénient.
Prime Minister nominates new federal Lobbying Commissioner
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced the nomination of Nancy Bélanger as the next Commissioner of Lobbying.
Ms. Bélanger currently serves as Deputy Commissioner, Legal Services and Public Affairs, with the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada. Her legal career with the federal Public Service spans more than two decades, including six years as General Counsel for the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. In the past decade, she has served in the offices of two Agents of Parliament. In 2007, she joined the senior management team as General Counsel at the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. In July 2013, she became General Counsel and Director of Legal Services for the Office of the Information Commissioner, a position she held until August 2017 when she became Deputy Commissioner, Legal Services and Public Affairs.
Ms. Bélanger’s nomination will need to be approved by both the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada. She is being nominated for a term of seven years.
GRIC has had a productive working relationship with Commissioner Karen Shepherd over the years, which we have greatly appreciated. We look forward to pursuing the same with Ms. Bélanger following approval of her nomination by Parliament.
We will continue to keep GRIC members updated as the nomination process unfolds.
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Update from the Office of the Integrity Commissioner
For Ontario lobbyists, an important update from the Office of the Integrity Commissioner (OIC): Guidance for Lobbyists on Gifts & Benefits.
Lobbyists should be cautious about offering a gift to or paying for a meal for a public office holder. Offering a gift or benefit may lead to the individual being placed in a real or potential conflict of interest, either at the time or in the future. If that happens, a lobbyist could be found to be non-compliant with the Lobbyists Registration Act, 1998.
The OIC has prepared a resource to assist lobbyists on the issue of gifts. Read more here http://www.oico.on.ca/home/lobbyists-registration/resources/guidance—gifts
Submission to the Treasury Board Secretariat
On October 29, 2017, the Treasury Board Secretariat wrapped up their consultation on the Cabinet Directive on Regulatory Management.
The Government Relations Institute of Canada took this opportunity to reiterate our view that there should be improved regulatory alignment between the Conflict of Interest Act and the Lobbying Act, to ensure clarity and address ongoing confusion.
You can find our submission posted at http://open.canada.ca/en/appendices
GRIC Submission to the Canada Revenue Agency
The Government Relations Institute of Canada (GRIC) and the Public Affairs Association (PAAC) of Canada submitted comments in support of the Canada Revenue Agency’s Consultation on Political Activities by Registered Charities. Bringing rise to this effort was that many members of both GRIC and PAAC represent charitable organizations or work for them directly.
Online Lobbyist Registry Now Active – Government of Saskatchewan
The Lobbyists Act for Saskatchewan was proclaimed today. The Lobbyist Registry is an important part of maintaining public knowledge on lobbying activities in the Province of Saskatchewan. Lobbyists based inside or outside Saskatchewan have 30 days to register their activities. More information on the Registry and the legislation can be found on the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists’ website.
Once lobbyists begin registering information, the Registry, which is accessed through the website at www.sasklobbyistregistry.ca, will include names of lobbyists, the public office holders they are communicating with, and the activities they are engaging in to attempt to influence decisions. Citizens and other stakeholders are able to search the Registry to see what issues or subjects may be the object of lobbyists and which public office holders have been lobbied.
New Lobbying Rules Coming to Ontario
Amendments to Ontario’s lobbying rules are set to come into force July 1, 2016. These are the significant changes to Ontario’s Lobbyists Registration Act which received Royal Assent in late 2014. The Lobbyist Registrar’s Office has published some news articles detailing what you need to know. For more information on the Ontario’s Lobbyist Registry and how it might affect you, please visit www.oico.on.ca.
New Guidance on Rule 10 Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct – Gifts
The Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada (OCL) has posted a new Commissioner’s Guidance for lobbyists regarding the application of Rule 10 of the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct – Gifts. The Guidance can be found here: http://www.ocl-cal.gc.ca/eic/site/012.nsf/eng/01183.html. If you have further questions about how to avoid creating a conflict of interest for a public office holder, please contact the OCL.
Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct (2015)
The Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct (2015) was published in the November 7 issue of Canada Gazette. It is available here – http://gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2015/2015-11-07/html/commis-eng.php#cb10. The new Code comes into force on December 1, 2015. The 1997 Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct remains in force until it is replaced. The Code and guidance documentation can be found on the OCL website – https://ocl-cal.gc.ca/eic/site/012.nsf/eng/01187.html – and as an additional aid, an annotated Code that can be found here – https://ocl-cal.gc.ca/eic/site/012.nsf/eng/h_01185.html.
GRIC has been directly engaged on behalf of members in consultations with the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying on both the development of the Code and the guidance materials released on November 7 through meetings, consultations, written submissions, and member roundtables. You can review the GRIC submissions below. We commend the Commissioner for her commitment to engaging stakeholders in meaningful and ongoing dialogue and her willingness to accommodate questions and provide clarity as requested to the extent possible. GRIC has consistently stated that the rules should be simple to follow, transparent and support an accessible policy environment for Parliamentarians and government officials.
Additionally, GRIC organized a briefing session for members with the Commissioner of Lobbying that was held on November 12, 2015 in Ottawa and November 17, 2015 in Calgary. In her presentations, the Commissioner highlighted and explained the changes in the new Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct. At the November 12 session, former Liberal Member of Parliament for the Nova Scotia constituency of Cape Breton Highlands-Canso, Francis LeBlanc moderated a Q&A with the Commissioner. A special acknowledgement to Alberta based GRIC Director Brian Gilbertson, Agrium Inc., and Member Alexis Ksiazkiewicz, University of Alberta, for their efforts in facilitating the Calgary session on November 17.
Commissioner’s Guidance for Lobbyists Regarding the Application of Rule 8 – Political Activities
(June 25, 2015) – Today the Lobbying Commissioner issued revised Guidance for Lobbyists (http://www.ocl-cal.gc.ca/eic/site/012.nsf/eng/01114.html) interested in participating in political campaigns. With member input provided to the Commissioner both following our Annual Meeting of Members earlier this month and through informal engagement, this Guidance provides some amount of additional clarity. GRIC continues to work in partnership with the Public Affairs Association of Canada to represent government and public affairs professionals publicly with governments and regulators.
GRIC Statement on the tabling of a Revised Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct
(May 25, 2015) – Today the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying (OCL) tabled a revised Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct. The Revised Code follows a consultation process on a number of proposed rule changes, in which the Government Relations Institute of Canada (GRIC) and the Public Affairs Association of Canada (PAAC) participated extensively. The revised Code will be formally published in the Canada Gazette in the near future. That publication will include the date the Revised Code comes into effect. Until that time, the existing 1997 Code remains in force.
GRIC and PAAC are encouraged generally that the Revised Code brings a measure of clarity and consistency to some areas that were addressed by stakeholders in this process. In particular, we note the Revised Code responds to GRIC and PAAC’s recommendations with respect to the scope of the Code’s application, to the role of ‘most senior paid officer’ in ensuring compliance, and with respect to some aspects of situations where lobbyists and public office holders have a previous relationship. At the same time, we expect to hear concerns from our members with respect to the Revised Code’s cynical treatment of participation by public office holders in charitable and community events (suggesting that the judgment of MPs and Public Office Holders cannot be trusted if they accept a ticket to a dinner or lunch event).
Similarly, we note the Revised Code continues to assume that elected and appointed officials cannot be trusted to act in the public interest, when dealing with someone with whom they have a previous relationship. However, we are encouraged that OCL has left the door open to considering further specificity around definitions and time frames with respects to gifts and relationships. GRIC and PAAC will continue to assess these rule changes and will work with OCL to ensure they are implemented and interpreted as consistently and transparently as possible. And we also await the introduction of legislation amending both the Lobbying Act and Conflict of Interest Act, as having a material impact on the future of the Code and its interpretation.
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