Premier pushes Alberta lobbyist registry

Alberta's new premier is fulfilling a campaign promise to establish a registry for lobbyists trying to get the ear of the government.

Alberta's new premier is fulfilling a campaign promise to establish a registry for lobbyists vying to get the ear of the government.

Ed Stelmach announced the registry Tuesday, saying he will reconvene the legislature on March 7 and introduce the Lobbyists Act.

Details of the act haven't been released, but if the lobbyist registry is anything like those in other provinces,it will list any company or person who is exerting influence on the premier and MLAs behind the scenes.

'Devil is in the details'

The details are crucial, said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, executive director of Public Interest Alberta, a non-partisan organization.

"It's not enough to say that so and so is a registered lobbyist if it doesn't describe who is paying them and what their specific position is going to be," he said.

"What it will do, we hope, is over time change a bit of the democratic culture in this province, which has for far too long been very ramped up with a kind of who-you-know type of democracy, rather than looking at how the public can be very involved in deciding what the direction of our government should be."

Liberal Leader Kevin Taft says the opposition parties have been pushing for a registry for a long time.

"There's no question a lobbyist registry is years and years overdue in Alberta," he said. "It's standard procedure in other provinces. Of course the devil is in the details. It could be really good or have loopholes you could drive a truck through."

The federal government and at least four provinces— Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and British Columbia— have lobbyist registries.