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GRIC welcomes the Third Edition Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct

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Following over two years of consultations, the Commissioner of Lobbying published the Third Edition Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct in the Canada Gazette on Friday May 26th. The updated Code took into account three rounds of stakeholder consultations and the recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics (ETHI). Importantly, ETHI made several recommendations that aligned with GRIC’s position and advocacy efforts over the last few months.

Overall, many recommendations made by GRIC have been considered and reflected in the updated Code.  GRIC appreciates the collaborative approach taken by Commissioner Bélanger throughout the consultation process and her openness to evaluating critical areas of concern that were raised by GRIC members.

Below is a brief summary of important changes brought to the Code, which will come into force on July 1, 2023.

Gifts and Hospitality:

  • The rules are restructured into one section where the language has shifted from “never offer” to “never provide” a gift or hospitality other than what is considered low value.
  • Low value for an allowed gift or instance of hospitality is $40 (excludes taxes, gratuities and catering, rental or services charges) and cannot exceed $200 for the same official within a calendar year.
  • The value of an instance of hospitality is determined on a per-person basis by dividing the total cost of the food and/or beverage by the number of all individuals reasonably expected to attend the gathering.
  • A lobbyist is not required to track what an official consumes while attending a gathering.

Political Work:

  • The section is written into rule 4.1 - Sense of Obligation.
  • The Code clarifies the definition of political work (paid or unpaid) and the factors that will be considered to be captured by the rule (nature of political work, degree of interaction and the duration/amount of time spent with official).
  • Leadership or senior political roles performed for an official or their political parties will now result in a 24-month cooling-off period.
  • “Frequent and/or extensive” interaction with an elected official will now result in a 12-month cooling-off period.
    • Frequent work is defined as work that is done either more than three times or a total of 8 hours per week, and extensive work is defined as work that is done for around or more than 24 hours per week.
  • Engaging in fundraising that is significant to the official will result in a 12-month or less cooling-off period.
  • Parliamentary Secretaries or the staff that work with the Minister remain within the scope of the rules on cooling-off periods. 

Sense of Obligation

  • A sense of obligation exists when an official owes a lobbyist, client or employer.  Lobbyists will be responsible if an official they are lobbying could reasonably be seen to have a sense of obligation towards their client or their employer.
    • This has been highlighted as area of concern by GRIC in past submissions to the OCL. The responsibility to track and monitor client/employer close relationships continues to lack clarity and will be challenging for many lobbyists to track and fully understand the networks and relationships of their clients. To learn more about past GRIC/PAAC submissions on this subject, click here.

We will continue to engage with the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada and will seek to find opportunities for members to contribute, be heard and inquire further about forthcoming changes.

We thank all members for their continued support and efforts during this process. Thank you to our Legislative Committee and our Chair, Hussain Shorish, for their commitment throughout this process and all the work that has gone into this engagement over the past several months.

As always, if you wish to become involved with GRIC’s work in this area, please contact Hussain Shorish directly.

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