Prov­ince ta­bles amend­ments to lob­by­ist leg­is­la­tion

Asian Journal - - BRITISH COLUMBIA -

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.

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