Politics

Lobbying Act loophole to close: Day

The federal government is moving to close a loophole in the Lobbying Act to include all MPs, senators and staff of opposition leaders as designated public office holders, Treasury Board President Stockwell Day says.

The federal government will close a loophole in the Lobbying Act to include all MPs, senators and staff of opposition leaders as designated public office holders.

Treasury Board President Stockwell Day says the government wants to ensure a transparent process with its changes to the federal Lobbying Act. ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press))

The move will require lobbyists to report on their meetings with all parliamentarians, not just ministers and their parliamentary secretaries, Treasury Board President Stockwell Day said Thursday in Ottawa.

The designation will also extend to all staff in the office of the leader of the opposition in both the House of Commons and Senate.

Day said lobbying should be allowed to occur in a democratic society, but sufficient rules must be in place to prevent abuses.

"We want to ensure that we have an open and transparent process," he said.

Move follows Jaffer affair

The current loophole came to the forefront as details emerged of Rahim Jaffer's inquiries to members of the Conservative government about access to a federal green infrastructure fund.

Documents show some staff and parliamentary secretaries of cabinet ministers, including Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis and Transport Minister John Baird, treated Jaffer's inquiries about the fund on a priority basis.

Jaffer, who is not registered as a lobbyist, has denied conducting unregistered lobbying or receiving a penny of federal funds. He never registered his discussions with government officials to the federal lobbying commissioner.

The House of Commons unanimously passed a Liberal motion in May calling for the definition of "designated public office holder" under the Lobbying Act to be extended so that lobbyists are required to report their meetings with parliamentary secretaries.

But the Tories, who supported the motion, said the move didn't go far enough.

Speaking after Day, NDP MP Libby Davies said her party supports the move, but wants to see a reverse onus to require parliamentarians to register their dealings with lobbyists to the federal lobbying commissioner.

"This isn't just an insider's game," Davies said, noting former MPs are still allowed to roam freely in the halls of Parliament Hill.

Day said the government will publish the regulations on Aug. 7 in the Canada Gazette, the government's official publication, followed by a 30-day period for public or parliamentary comment before the proposed changes are adopted.

Once enacted, the regulations will prevent all new designated public office holders, including rookie MPs, from working as lobbyists for five years after they leave office.

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