What is Transparency?

1.  “A lack of any hidden agendas with all information being available”

2.  “Required condition for an open and free exchange”

Black’s Law Dictionary


What is lobbying?

Any communication with a public office holder by an individual who represents a business or financial interest with the goal of trying to influence any legislative action, including, but not limited to, development, introduction, passage, defeat, amendment or repeal of a bylaw, motion, resolution or the outcome of a decision on any matter before Council or a Committee of Council, or staff member acting under delegated authority. 

What is a Lobbyist Registry?

It is an online tool that provides accountability and transparency to lobbying activities by giving the public access to information about who is communicating with Members of Council and Town Staff.

Lobbyists will be required to register with the Lobbyist Registry and disclose lobbying activities by identifying themselves, the client for which they are lobbying, the subject matter, the individual they lobbied, the method used for communication and the dates the communications occurred on.

What is Communication?

Any form of expressive contact, including but not limited to a meeting, email, or other electronic messaging, facsimile transmission, letter, phone call, or other meaningful communication or any other meaningful dialogue or exchange that materially advances a matter that is defined as lobbying, whether in a formal or informal setting.

Who are public office holders?

·  A member of Council and any person on his or her staff;

·  An Officer or employee of the Town in a management position or with decision making powers;

·  Employees who have direct contact with Council in the operations of Council and committees;

·  Employees who work on municipal elections in a supervisory role;

·  An Accountability Officer appointed under The Act,  including but not limited to the Integrity Commissioner, the Lobbyist Registrar, Ombudsman, and Closed Meeting Investigator;

·  Individuals providing professional services to the Town during the course of providing such services.

What purpose does Lobbying serve?

Lobbying, if conducted in a transparent way, can be a positive contributor to debate and is an important part of the governing process. The lobbying of Members of Council and staff on municipal issues can enhance the deliberative process by providing the perspective of stakeholders that might otherwise be lost. Greater transparency of that process, however, will enhance the public’s perception that decisions are being made in an accountable way.

Will the Lobbyist Registry mandatory?

Yes.  As of Jan. 1, 2020 the Lobbyist Registry is mandatory.  Lobbyists will be required to register their activities. Penalties will not be enforced, however, until June 1, 2020 to allow for an education period. During the first six months after the implementation, Lobbyists will be expected to register their name and the reasons for their contact with the public office holder but it is understood that this period of time will be dedicated to learning how and when to use the tool.



When does the Lobbyist Registry come into effect?

The Lobbyist Registry is proposed to come  into effect January 1, 2020.

Who will enforce the Lobbyist Registry and what are the penalties for not disclosing lobbying activity?

It is intended that the Town’s Accountability Officer will be the Lobbyist Registrar. Section 223.11(1) of the Municipal Act permits a municipality to appoint a Lobbyist Registrar. Generally, the Lobbyist Registrar will oversee the administration of the lobbyist registration system and provide advice, opinions and interpretations regarding the lobbyist registry. The Registrar will also investigate complaints and to impose sanctions if lobbying activity has not been disclosed or if an individual has contravened the Lobbyist Code of Conduct. Should the Registrar impose a sanction, it will be in the form of a temporary ban on communication. Notice of the temporary ban will be circulated to Members of Council and Town Staff and posted on the Town’s Lobbyist Registry web pages. Sanctions could be applied along the following incremental scale: For a first breach, the Lobbyist is banned from communicating with public office holders for 30 days For a second breach, the Lobbyist is banned from communicating with public office holders for 60 days In the event of a third breach, the Registrar has the discretion to determine an appropriate sanction that will be more than 60 days

What happens if someone continues to Lobby when under a ban or refuses to register?

Waiting to research this question

Who will not need to register with the Lobbyist Registry?

  • -Public officials from other levels of government and within the public sector
  • -Not-for-profit groups, unless the group has paid staff and the communication in question falls under the definition of lobbying
  • -Community groups and associations whose communications state a position for a general community benefit, either town-wide or local
  • -Municipal public office holders (i.e.-Members of Council and Town Staff)

If I believe lobbying activity has not been entered into the Lobbyist Registry, how will I file a complaint?

If you believe lobbying activity has occurred and has not been entered into the Lobbyist Registry, or have concerns about the information contained within the Registry, please contact the Lobbyist Registrar accountability@collingwood.


 

Will there be further changes to the Registry online tool?

The Lobbyist Registry will be a low-cost, easy-to-use tool for the public, Members of Council and Town Staff. The Registry is being implemented with a six month education period at the beginning to ensure proper adjustments are made and that any party affected by this new program will have the opportunity to learn how to utilize it effectively. Over time, adjustments may be made to ensure effectiveness and efficiency.

Will I need to register every time I speak with Town Staff or a Member of Council?

Most interactions with Town Staff and Members of Council will not need to be registered. These include:

  • Speaking on the public record during a Council, or Committee of Council Meeting
  • Any communication that occurs on the record and during a public process, such as a public meeting or an open house
  • If you are participating as a stakeholder in a meeting initiated by the Town
  • If you are seeking information
  • If you are following a Council-approved process, such as a site application or building permit
  • Providing compliments or complaints about a Town program
  • Advocacy activities, which are generally carried out by community groups and associations and are communications that state a position for a general community benefit, either Town-wide or local. 

When are my interactions considered lobbying?

If you are an individual who represents a business or financial interest and are communicating with a Member of Council or Town Staff with the intent of influencing a decision on governmental matters outside of normal processes, including the development, introduction, passage, amendment or repeal of a by-law, motion, resolution or the outcome of a decision on any matter before Council, a Committee of Council, or staff member acting under delegated authority, then you are required to register your activity with the Lobbyist Registry.

It is important to remember that Lobbying is a legitimate activity that is part of an individual’s, group’s or company’s right to communicate with their elected officials and municipal staff.

If my communication falls under the definition of lobbying, what category of lobbyist would I have to register under?

The Registry will focus on those individuals representing a financial or business interest, as well as trade unions and labour associations. Within those groups, the registry will identify three types of lobbyists:

  • A consultant lobbyist who lobbies for payment on behalf of a client
  • An in-house lobbyist who is an employee, partner, or sole proprietor and who lobbies on behalf of their own employer, business, or organization
  • A voluntary unpaid lobbyist who lobbies without payment on behalf of a business, for-profit organization, or not-for-profit with paid staff for the benefit of the interests of the for-profit entity, organization, or not-for-profit

Not-for-profit organizations with paid staff are also required to register any communications that fall under the definition of lobbying.

Do I need to register as a lobbyist before I contact a public office holder?

No, there is no requirement for pre-registration; although it is encouraged where possible. The requirement is that the registration occur within 15 days of the initial lobbying activity.

How do I use the Lobbyist Registry?

Steps to creating a profile will be published on this page once the tool is fully developed.

What is are the lobbying subject matter categories?

These are still in development, as the list can be adjusted according to use but in the meantime, the categories include: Budget, Building permits/inspections, By-laws/Regulations, Economic Development, Emergency (fire), Environment, Financial Services, Grants/Funding, Human Resources, Information Technology, Roads/Sewers, Licenses, Parking, Parks, Planning and Development, Procurement, Public Works, Recreation, Tax, Training, Water/Sewer. 

What type of information will I need to disclose?

When creating your profile, you will need to identify your name and business address as well as the category of lobbyist you fall under. If you are working on behalf of a client, you will identify the client name and address. You are also required to declare whether or not you have ever held a senior position with the Town;

When submitting your lobbying file, you will be required to identify the subject matter (e.g. zoning by-law). When disclosing your activity, you will include the person you lobbied, how you lobbied (e.g. e-mail), the date of the activity, and the ward affected by the subject matter.

What happens in situations where it is unclear whether or not the encounter qualifies as lobbying?

In cases where the intent of the communication is unclear, the matter should be referred to the Lobbyist Registrar’s attention for direction. The Lobbyist Registrar can be contacted at accountability@collingwood.ca

What information will be available on the public search tool?

The public will be able to see your name and business address, your client and their contact information, the subject matter, who you lobbied, how you lobbied and when. If you held a senior position with the Town, this information is also publicly available.

How do I register lobbying communications about the same topic that occurs multiple times or over an extended period of time?

You will only be required to register the initial communication or discussion. For instance, if you have an extended e-mail exchange on the same topic, the lobbying activity should be logged as e-mail exchange on the date the exchange commenced and the projected end of the lobbying period. 

However, if the topic changes during the course of the exchange, you will be required to register the new topic.

The Town has invited me to participate in a stakeholder relations session. Do I have to register this meeting?

Any communication surrounding your role as a stakeholder in this situation is not considered lobbying and does not need to be registered.

If I make an error in my entry on the Registry, can I fix it?

If information was submitted in error, please contact the Lobbyist Registrar at accountability@collingwood.ca to explain the error and request it be changed.

Do I need to pay to register?

No, there is no cost to registering with the Lobbyist Registry.