So You Want to Create a Municipal Lobbyist Registry

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A lobbyist registry aims to enhance accountability, transparency and public confidence in government decisions by informing the public about communications with public office holders. It tracks paid lobbyists who attempt to influence the decisions of public officials.

Lobbying can include written and non-written communications with public officials. The goal is not to prevent communications, but rather to make local decisions more transparent.

Québec is the only jurisdiction that requires lobbyists to register lobbying activities carried out at the provincial and municipal levels. It takes the guesswork out of local lobbyist registries by regulating these activities provincially. While Ontario requires Toronto to adopt a lobbyist registry, it is optional for other Ontario municipalities to adopt a bylaw. In provinces and territories with no legislative framework, some municipalities, such as Surrey, British Columbia, Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Edmonton, Alberta, have established their own forms and registry environments.

The Canadian Bar Association’s Municipal Law Section assists practitioners dealing with municipalities and their administration. This guide offers a starting point for municipal practitioners advising on the regulation of lobbying activities. Depending on the mandate received from the municipal council, these references are starting points to drafting a bylaw or policy.