Lobbyist Code of Conduct public consultation underway

VICTORIA – Over the next three months, British Columbians will be asked for their opinions on the possible adoption of a provincial lobbyist code of conduct. The consultation is being facilitated by the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists (“ORL”).

The British Columbia Lobbyists Registration Act (LRA) helps to minimize secret influencing of government by making lobbying activities transparent through mandatory declarations in a public registry. Through registration, key aspects of lobbying are made public: who is being lobbied, on what subject matter, on whose behalf and toward what outcome. The LRA does not, however, govern the manner in which lobbyists interact with public office-holders.

“The regulation of lobbying is challenging due to several factors,” Registrar of Lobbyists Elizabeth Denham stated. “The lobbying community is large, diverse and dispersed. Effective oversight requires a multi-pronged approach, including incentives, education and investigation. A code of conduct could be an additional useful tool for enforcement and education,” she stated.
While the Registrar is generally supportive of some form of a code of conduct, “the public and the lobbyist community must be engaged in the discussion,” Registrar Denham stated. “Without hearing from them, the questions of whether we actually need a code, or how one might be developed and enforced remain unanswered.”

A consultation paper on the issue is accessible on the ORL website. The paper reviews existing lobbyist codes of conduct in other jurisdictions and presents three options and a series of questions for discussion. “The purpose of the paper is to stimulate thought and discussion among stakeholder groups and the general public concerning the idea of adopting a code,” the Registrar stated.

The paper will be distributed to a broad range of stakeholders, including registered lobbyists, industry associations, chambers of commerce, academics and other observers, B.C. MLAs and others. Members of the general public are also invited to view the consultation paper and submit responses. Responses will be incorporated into a report to be presented by the Registrar to the
Minister of Justice and Attorney General, tabled in the British Columbia Legislative Assembly and published on the ORL website.

The paper can be found at www.lobbyistsregistrar.bc.ca. Submissionsare requested by Friday, July 6, 2012. Submissions may be emailed to [email protected], mailed to PO Box 9038 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, BC V8W 9A4 or faxed to 250 387-1696.