Province tables amendments to lobbyist legislation
Victoria: The Government of British Columbia is introducing legislative amendments that will increase lobbying transparency and accountability in B.C., with the intent of strengthening confidence and trust in the integrity of public decision making.
“These amendments will make British Columbia the most transparent lobbying regime in Canada,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “Big money and political insiders have had too much influence for too long.
These changes are long overdue and build on our continuing work to strengthen B.C.’S democracy for all British Columbians.”
The proposed changes to the Lobbyist Registration Act increase the lobbying information available to the public to include details about who will benefit directly from the lobbying effort, as well as protect public officials being lobbied from being placed in a conflict of interest with new rules about gifts and the reporting of political contributions.
The changes will also promote compliance, strengthen enforcement and significantly improve the accuracy of the lobbyist registry. Key amendments include:
• Monthly reporting of actual lobbying and the names of a broader range of public office holders who are lobbied;
• Harmonized registration for both classes of lobbyists (consultant and in-house); • Reporting whether a consultant lobbyist works under a contingency fee arrangement and whether a lobbyist subscribes to a relevant code of conduct; • Reporting whether lobbyists have made reportable political contributions to a member of the legislative assembly (MLA) they are lobbying;
• New gift rules and reporting based on the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act to apply for all public office holders being lobbied; • Stronger compliance and enforcement powers for the registrar; and
• Mandatory, regular review of the Lobbyist Registration Act by parliamentary committee. Instituting lobbying reform, and the comprehensive review of the act on which this bill is based, is part of the Attorney General’s mandate. Delivering the reform is a shared priority between government and the B.C. Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
“These changes will improve accountability in government decision making,” said Andrew Weaver, B.C. Green Party leader. “These new rules will strengthen the integrity of the decisions made in Victoria while ensuring that the lobbying industry adheres to high ethical standards.”
The amendments build on changes introduced in fall 2017 that implemented a two-year cooling-off period during which insiders cannot engage in lobbying. Quick Facts:
• The bill is based on a comprehensive review of the act, including feedback from consultation and recommendations made in two reports released in 2013 by the registrar of lobbyists.
• In November 2017, government passed the Lobbyists Registration Amendment Act, which toughened the rules around political lobbying. They were the first substantial amendments to the act since 2009.