A common misconception about lobbyist registries is that they prevent illegal or unethical activities. While they are often established in response to public pressure or scandal, lobbying is a legitimate and legal activity. The goal is one of transparency, to ensure the public knows who influenced which public official.

In Québec, lobbying is prescribed at the provincial level, so there is less guess work for municipalities. Municipalities wanting to regulate lobbying in Ontario must draft bylaws, similar to those of the municipalities we mention. In other jurisdictions, this guide offers examples of sections to include in by-laws. Innovative processes established in Edmonton, Surrey and Winnipeg demonstrate a range of options to consider.

What will become increasingly apparent to anyone creating a municipal lobbying by-law is the need to answer why, or what, one is trying to address, and how it can best be addressed with the powers available to the municipality. If the council is determined to pursue a lobbyist registry, the next steps will be to review the relevant provincial or territorial municipal legislation to confirm the scope and parameters it can impose and make sure the resources are available to implement the by-law.