B.C. government proposes tightening lobbying rules
Opposition says the changes don't go far enough to prevent undue influence
The B.C. government has committed to preventing former cabinet ministers and high-ranking public servants from lobbying government immediately after leaving their jobs.
If passed, the legislation proposed by the governing NDP would ban cabinet ministers, political staff, parliamentary secretaries, deputy ministers and associate deputy ministers from lobbying for two years after leaving government.
B.C. Attorney General David Eby said British Columbians are concerned, "about people having insider information and then as soon as they leave government going to a lobbyist firm and using that information to benefit other organizations — and we wanted to stop that."
The ban would also extend to senior officials at universities, school boards, health authorities, hospitals, the Workers' Compensation Board and Crown corporations.
The ban does not, however, extend to former MLAs. Similarly, the federal government's five-year prohibition on lobbying by former public office holders does not extend to former members of Parliament.
"Our feeling was MLAs didn't have access to this insider information, which is what we were concerned about," said Eby.
The proposed rules would ensure that lobbyists disclose the names of any staff, ministers or MLAs they speak to. The fine for breaking the lobbying act would remain the same at $25,000.
The Greens and NDP agreed on lobbying reforms as part of their pact to create a stable minority government.
Liberal MLA Andrew Wilkinson said there should be rules to ensure lobbyists provide monthly lists of the officials they meet with.
"The major changes in the federal legislation require notification when a lobbyist actually visited someone and we don't have this in this province," said Wilkinson.