Sudbury·City Council

Sudbury considers lobbyist registry — but is it a waste of time?

Talking to a city councillor or a member of city staff in Sudbury could soon be a lot more complicated.
Ward 10 city councillor Fern Cormier speaks during a committee meeting. File photo. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)
Greater Sudbury city council is debating whether or not to register lobbyists who try to influence their decisions. Not all councillors think it's necessary. We also spoke to a political science professor about the idea. 6:58
Talking to a city councillor or a member of city staff in Sudbury could soon be a lot more complicated.

The city is the latest to consider bringing in a registry for lobbyists to track private sector influence on the decisions made at city hall.

But not everyone thinks it's needed.

In Ottawa, Toronto and Hamilton, there's an online list of any meeting between a private lobbyist and a city official.

Sudbury city councillor Lynne Reynolds doesn't believe we have any lobbyists here.

"I think it's just going to be a waste of our staff's time."

While it makes sense for federal and provincial lobbyists to register, municipal politicians don't have as much power, Coun. Fern Cormier noted.

"There's not one of us around the table that has the ability to issue a contract or unilaterally make a decision."

But the majority of council, including Mike Jakubo, wanted staff to at least do some research before giving the registry a thumbs up or down.

"While we don't have a lot of registered lobbyists, we certainly have a lot of lobbying going on," he said.

University of Western Ontario political scientist Andrew Sancton said determining exactly who is a lobbyist can make the process very complicated and expensive.

"So, it's possible the lobbyist registry might not be worth it," he said.

"I think if we all know if we were forced to document a lot of the conversations we had about our jobs, it would be a tricky thing to do."

City council expect staff to report back to them on the matter, later this year.

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