Ontario is proposing to strengthen its Lobbyists Registration Act to ensure greater transparency and accountability among lobbyists, government and the public.
“Communicating with government is a completely legitimate activity but Ontarians have the right to know who is doing it and for what purpose. Our strong working relationship with the Integrity Commissioner has yielded positive discussions. We are pleased that we’re going to introduce legislation to shine more light on the lobbying industry, promote transparency and accountability in government and ensure that elected officials are held accountable for how they use tax dollars,” stated Minister of Government Services Harinder Takkar.
The existing act already outlines requirements for lobbyists who need to register their activities with the provincial government. Proposed amendments would enhance the existing act by:
§ Giving the Integrity Commissioner more enforcement powers, including the ability to prohibit individuals from lobbying.
§ Giving the Integrity Commissioner new investigative powers, including the ability to compel testimony and obtain key documents.
§ Requiring lobbyists to identify the specific MPP and ministers’ offices they lobby.
§ Preventing lobbyists from accepting additional fees for preferred outcomes.
§ Prohibiting lobbyists from providing paid advice to a ministry and lobbying on the same subject matter.
§ Providing the Integrity Commissioner with the ability to establish a lobbyist code of conduct
§ 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 government will also propose changes to the Cabinet Ministers’ and Opposition Leaders’ Expenses Review and Accountability Act. Cabinet ministers, parliamentary assistants and their staff already post expense information. If passed, these changes would require opposition leaders and their staff to make their expense information available to the public.