Lobbying Act Sees Significant Change
At one time, the federal Lobbying Act seemed geographically removed from the University of Lethbridge. Most of the individuals the U of L was required to report its lobbying interactions with were located in Ottawa or, to a lesser extent, other major Canadian cities.
With a new regulation in place that brings Members of Parliament and Senators into the rules that govern lobbyists, it is particularly important that the broader U of L community become aware of how the landscape has changed.
The Lobbying Act dictates that organizations must report specific lobbying encounters when speaking with Designated Public Office Holders (DPOH). Up until last month, these individuals included cabinet ministers, deputy ministers, associate deputy ministers and their exempt staffs. The federal government has now broadened this list of individuals to include, among others, MPs, Members of the Senate or any exempt staff working in the offices of these members.
The U of L is required to update its lobby registration on an ongoing basis. This registry contains general information about the institution, the grants it receives, the individuals that act in a lobbying capacity for the institution and the subject matter upon which the U of L intends to lobby the federal government. The U of L is also responsible for reporting its “oral and arranged” communication after a listed employee advocates for a benefit (whether financial or to influence policy or legislation) for the institution. These monthly communication reports must be submitted by the 15th day of the following month from when the interaction occurred. This is done through the U of L’s Government Relations Office.
University faculty members have the academic freedom to speak to members of the federal government as persons with expertise. If faculty members lobby for a benefit for the University, they, and their subject matter, must be included in the U of L’s registry. However, if an employee or faculty member is advocating for the greater public good (and not a specific benefit), they are not required to register or report their interaction.
At various times, individuals throughout campus are involved in projects that involve interacting with the federal government. The Government Relations Office can help to ensure you are fulfilling the legal requirements of the federal Lobbying Act.
For more information on this issue, check it out online at www.ocl-cal.gc.ca/eic/site/lobbyist-lobbyiste1.nsf/eng/home
Richard Westlund is theU of L’s director of government relations and can be reached at 403-332-5251 or at email@example.com