Lobbyist registry wins final approval from MLAs

New Brunswick MLAs voted for a bill today that will establish a lobbyist registry in the province after seven years of debate.

Lobbyist registry concept was first raised in 2007

New Brunswick MLAs voted for a bill today that will establish a lobbyist registry in the province after seven years of debate.

The legislature is set to adjourn on Wednesday for the last time before September's provincial election.

MLAs were busy voting on a number of bills, including the lobbyist registry that's been on the drawing board for seven years.

The bill was among those MLAs were working on Tuesday to clear out their backlog before adjourning. It was approved at committee of the whole on Tuesday and received royal assent on Wednesday.

The delay was only the latest of many.

Deputy Premier Paul Robichaud had promised earlier this month the bill would pass before MLAs adjourned.

The goal of the lobbyist registry is more transparency by making consultants register publicly if they are paid to influence government officials.

Lobbyists will be forced to register their company, name and their clients with the Office of the Ombudsman. That information will be publicly available.

By becoming law now, the law will only apply to whomever forms the next government after September's election.

Liberal MLA Roger Melanson said the late timing of the lobbyist registry’s passage cannot be a coincidence.

"The Premier Alward government didn't want to, within their mandate, respect the legislation that they brought in at the last minute,” Melanson said.

The concept of a lobbyist registry has been on the government’s radar for several years.

Former Liberal premier Shawn Graham first promised a lobbyist registry in 2007.

In 2009, the Liberals called a registry too costly and suggested a regional system for Atlantic Canada. However, the Liberals later dropped the idea.

Alward's Tory government introduced a lobbyist registry bill in 2011 then put it on hold, citing technical complications.

The Tories revived the idea last fall. It was one of the first bills they introduced in November but it was one of the last remaining on the order paper this week.