- Are you a Lobbyist?
Are you a Lobbyist?
Faculty and staff at universities who lobby on behalf of the university, faculty, or their department are considered in-house lobbyists and are required to register with the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada pursuant to the Lobbying Act (the “Act”).
Carleton University is registered under its most senior officer, the President and Vice-Chancellor. Senior Administrators are also listed as a part of the University’s registration. All other individuals who engage in activities which are considered lobbying (see the explanation below) must be included under the University’s registration. Any pre-arranged verbal communication (see definition of lobbying and requirements below) has to be reported on the Carleton University registry on the 15th of each month.
Definition of “Lobbying” and Requirements
Lobbying as defined by the Act is communicating in any oral and arranged communications (excluding e-mail, letter and fax communications), with a designated public officer holder with respect to the following matters:
- the development of a legislative proposal;
- the introduction or amendment of a Bill or resolution;
- making or amending any regulation, policy or program; or
- the awarding of a tax credit or any other financial benefit; or
- the awarding of a non-peer reviewed grant or contribution by the federal government.
Engaging in any of these activities on behalf of the University triggers a legal requirement for the individual to register as an in-house lobbyist under the University’s registration and to log the communication.
Definition of “Designated Public Office Holders”
The Act creates a class of public office holder known as “Designated Public Office Holders” (DPOH). These include:
- all Members of Parliament (MPs), Senators and exempt staff working in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition in the House and in the Senate
- a public office holder who:
- occupies the senior executive position, whether titled deputy minister, chief executive officer or by some other title; or
- is an associate deputy minister or an assistant deputy minister or occupies a position of comparable rank
- Chief of Defence Staff, Vice Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Maritime Staff, Chief of Land Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Military Personnel, Judge Advocate General
- any position of Senior Advisor to the Privy Council to which the office holder is appointed by the Governor-in-Council
- Deputy Minister (Intergovernmental Affairs) Privy Council Office
- Comptroller General of Canada
- any position to which the office holder is appointed pursuant to para. 127.1(1)(a) or (b) of the Public Service Employment Act , namely: deputy minister, associate deputy minister and positions of equivalent ranks, in addition to deputy head, associate deputy head and positions of equivalent ranks
- any person identified by the Prime Minister as having had the task of providing advice and support to him or her during the transition period leading up to the swearing in of the Prime Minister and his or her ministry
It is important to note that there is no central list of DPOHs. If it is unclear from the person’s title or place of work if they are a DPOH under the Act, the onus is on the lobbyist to ask the government official with whom you are meeting or speaking if they are a DPOH. If you are uncertain please contact the University Secretariat for clarification.
Reporting of Communications: Monthly Returns
Universities are subject to the Lobbying Act as an In-House Lobbyist and must register those engaged in all types of communication with designated public office holders. Communications must be disclosed in a monthly report if:
- It is both oral and arranged:
– includes phone conversations and in person meetings
– excludes emails, faxes, correspondence
– doesn’t apply to chance encounters
- Formal or informal communications – all considered
- Who was involved and what was discussed
The University Secretariat will file a monthly disclosure by way of a return no later than 15 days after the end of every month. The monthly return must include: (please see attached Lobbyist Communication Log)
- the name(s) of the public office holder,
- position and name of the branch, unit or department,
- date and particulars of the communication including subject matter(s) and description.
The Commissioner may then verify with the DPOH the content of the monthly return. Once filed, the return will be added to the public searchable database on the Commissioner’s website. There is a penalty for failure to file a required return or for submission of a false or misleading statement to the Commissioner of Lobbying.
Exceptions to Reporting/Registration under the Act
A disclosure is not required if:
- the communication takes place in an open forum in which the subject matters, the names of participants and the name of the government organizations represented are a matter of public record; or
- the communication is restricted to a simple request for information such as enforcement, interpretation or application of a federal regulation or piece of legislation; or
- the DPOH initiates a discussion requesting an individual’s comment or expertise relating to the development, policy, programs or legislation.
Academics offering expert advice to government and who are not acting on behalf of or for the benefit of the University, but as subject matter experts are also exempt from registration.
However, a disclosure is required if communication is necessary to determine what additional information is required in having an application or project approved. If funding is discussed in a DPOH initiated meeting you must report.
A return is always required if the pre-arranged verbal communication is with respect to funding, regardless of whether the university representative or the DPOH initiates the communication.
Compliance and Communications Reporting Template
The University Secretariat is responsible for filing the official reports. Full compliance is important in order to ensure the University’s lobbying efforts are lawful, and to avoid penalty.
A Lobbyist Communication Log has been created for use by those who engage in lobbying, in order to assist in filing the required disclosures. Each month the University must file a Monthly Return reporting any communication with designated public office holders, including any oral communication and any planned communication.
Therefore, any pre-arranged verbal communication with a DPOH must be reported on Carleton University’s registry on the 15th of each month. The information should be provided via e-mail by no later than the 5th of every month to ensure that it can be registered by the University within the proper timeline. As a best practice, individuals are encouraged to provide the information as soon as possible following the communication with a DPOH.
Please download the Lobbyist Communication Log to complete and send the completed Communications Reporting Template to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than the 5th of the month if you have any communications to report.
How to register as a lobbyist from Carleton University
If you engage in activities which fit the definition of lobbying, you may be required to register as a lobbyist. In order to register as a lobbyist, please contact the University Secretary or General Counsel. You will be required to provide the following information:
- Your name;
- Your position; and
- A list of all employment positions you have held with the federal government including the dates the position was held, the title, the department and the branch.
The law requires that you must register within 60 days of commencing any lobbying activities.
For more questions, please contact Amanda Goth or Steve Levitt or call 613-520-2386.