CSAE Achieves Success in Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct Updates
Over the course of the past year, the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE) has been engaging with the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying’s office for their consultations on an updated Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct. From the first draft to the final draft that was most recently submitted to the House of Commons Ethics Committee, CSAE has had several wins that will allow association executives to continue engaging with public office holders.
In response to the original draft, CSAE identified three issues that could be problematic for association leaders with their lobbying activities. First, the Commissioner was proposing that a $30 limit be set for hospitality, namely parliamentary receptions. This limit would not only include the cost of food and beverage, but also all the costs associated with a caterer, including rentals, labour, and taxes. This low limit would effectively stop receptions on Parliament Hill as there is not currently a caterer in Ottawa that can provide services for that low of a budget.
Second, the Commissioner proposed a cooling-off period for all political work undertaken by a lobbyist. This meant that if an individual door-knocked for a candidate once for a couple of hours, and didn’t even meet the candidate, they would be barred from lobbying that individual for 12 months. Third, the Commissioner proposed that associates of an individual that a lobbyist had a conflict of interest with would not be allowed to be lobbied. For example, if an association executive serves as a campaign manager for a candidate that is a friend of theirs and then is elected as a Member of Parliament, they would not be able to lobby that individual for 24 months. However, if the association executive works for an association that represents individuals in the field of health, and the Member of Parliament then becomes the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, they wouldn’t be allowed to lobby the Minister or their staff.
In the second draft of the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct, CSAE was able to successfully resolve the last two issues.
However, the issue regarding receptions remained. We are proud to announce that the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying has rectified this situation in the recently published final draft. The limit has been increased from $30 to $40 for hospitality, and this only applies to the cost of food and beverage. This new limit, without the other charges, will allow associations to continue holding parliamentary receptions. The new limit also includes an annual limit of $80, meaning an association could hold two receptions a year at $40 per public office holder. This is a big win for associations that hold annual, or semi-annual, events in Ottawa, such as parliamentary receptions or galas, where Members of Parliament are invited to attend. They can continue doing so while following the new limits.
While the Commissioner of Lobbying has the full discretion to publish the new Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct as final, the House of Commons Ethics Committee has announced that they will review this new draft closely, including inviting the Commissioner to present before them in the new year.
To read the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct submitted to Members of Parliament, please see here.