FAQs for Lobbyists
Most interactions you have with Town Staff and Members of Council will not need to be registered. This includes:
- Speaking on the public record during a meeting of Council, a Committee of Council, or local board of the Town
- Any communication that occurs during a public process such as a public meeting, hearing, consultation, open house or media event held or sponsored by the Town or a public office holder or related to an application
- If you are participating as a stakeholder in a meeting initiated by the Town
- If you are seeking information
- If you are following a Council-approved process, such as a site application or building permit
- Any communication regarding a business or financial interest by not-for-profit entity where such entity has no paid staff
- Providing compliments or complaints about a Town service or program
- Advocacy activities, which are generally carried out by community groups and associations and are communications that state a position for a general community benefit, either Town-wide or local
If you are an individual who represents a business or financial interest and are communicating with a public officer holder outside of approved public processes with the intent of influencing a decision on governmental matters, including the development, introduction, passage, amendment or repeal of a by-law, motion, resolution or the outcome of a decision on any matter before Council, a Committee of Council or local board of the Town, or Councillor or staff member acting under delegated authority, then you are required to register your activity with the Lobbyist Registry.
Lobbying is a legitimate activity that is part of an individual’s, group’s, or company’s right to communicate with their elected officials and municipal staff. The purpose of the Registry is to provide accountability and transparency around lobbying activities that serve to benefit an individual or group of individuals with a business or financial interest.
The Registry focuses on those individuals representing a financial or business interest, as well as trade unions and labour associations. Within those groups, the registry identifies three types of lobbyists:
- A consultant lobbyist who lobbies for payment on behalf of a client
- An in-house lobbyist who is an employee, partner, or sole proprietor and who lobbies on behalf of their own employer, business or other entity
- A voluntary unpaid lobbyist who lobbies without payment on behalf of an individual, business or any other for-profit entity for the benefit of the interests of the individual, business, or for-profit entity
Not-for-profit organizations with paid staff are also required to register any communications that fall under the definition of lobbying.
Unfortunately, the Lobbyist Registry has limited flexibility and at this time. If you qualify as more than one type of lobbyist, you will have to submit a form for each separate type of lobbyist.
The following persons and organizations shall not be considered lobbyists when acting in their public capacity:
- Government or public sector not including the Town and other municipal bodies:
- Members of the Senate or House of Commons of Canada, the legislative assembly of a province, the council or legislative assembly of a territory, or persons on the staff of the members
- Members of a First Nation council as defined in the Indian Act or of the council of an Indian band established by an Act of the Parliament of Canada, or persons on the staff of the members
- Employees or consultants retained by the Government of Canada, the government of a province or territory, a First Nation council, a federal or provincial crown corporation or other federal or provincial public agency
- Members of a council or other statutory body, including a local board, charged with the administration of the civil or municipal affairs of a municipality in Canada other than the Town, persons on staff of the members, or officers or employees of the municipality or local board
- Members of a national or sub-national foreign government, persons on the staff of the members, or officers, employees, diplomatic agents, consular officers or official representatives in Canada of the government
- Officials and employees of the Town and other municipal bodies:
- Public office holders:
- Members or employees of a local board of the Town
- Members of an advisory committee appointed by Council
- Public office holders:
- Other public sector:
- Persons communicating on behalf of local school boards
- Persons communicating on behalf of healthcare institutions
The Lobbyist Registry can be found at www.collingwood.ca/council-government/lobbyist-registry. Lobbyists are required to register lobbying activities within ten (10) business days of the initial communication occurring. Registering takes a matter of minutes and within one to two business days of receiving your submission, the Registrar will review your information and contact you if they have any questions. They will also validate the information contained within your profile to ensure accuracy.
Any substantive form of communication including a formal meeting, email, letter, phone call or meaningful dialogue or exchange that materially advances a matter that is defined as lobbying, whether in a formal or an informal setting.
You will need to identify your name and business address as well as the category of lobbyist you fall under. If you are working on behalf of a client, you will identify the client name and address. You are also required to declare whether or not you have ever held a position with the Town of Collingwood.
When submitting your lobbying activity, you will be required to identify the subject matter (e.g. zoning by-law). When disclosing your activity, you will include the person you lobbied, how you lobbied (e.g. e-mail), the date of the activity, as well as a brief description of your communication.
Lobbying activity covers “substantive” forms of communication including a formal meeting, e-mail, letter, or phone call. Also included is any meaningful dialogue or exchange whether in a formal or in an informal setting. This would include conversations at a social event (e.g. golf tournament) that constitutes lobbying and aims to influence a legislative action.
In cases where the intent of the communication is unclear, the matter should be referred to the Lobbyist Registrar’s attention for direction. The Lobbyist Registrar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will need to enter each lobbying file you are communicating on. Each file must be attached to a particular client and you will need to disclose the client name or company name and the business address.
The public will be able to see your name, your client (if applicable), the subject matter, who you lobbied, and when. If you held a position with the Town, this information is also publicly available.
No, there is no requirement for pre-registration.
You are only required to register the initial communication or discussion. For instance, if you have an extended e-mail exchange on the same topic, the lobbying activity should be logged as one e-mail exchange on the date the exchange commenced.
However, if the topic changes during the course of the exchange, you are required to register the new topic.
If a Member of Council has approached you and is seeking information from you, you do not have to register this communication.
Any communication surrounding your role as a stakeholder is not considering lobbying and does not need to be registered.
No, there is no cost to registering with the Lobbyist Registry.
The Lobbyist Registrar is an accountability officer whose powers and duties are set out in the Municipal Act, 2001 and the Lobbyist Registry By-law, the Lobbyist Registrar and enforces the Lobbyist Registry as well as the Lobbyist Code of Conduct.
The Registrar will produce an annual report summarizing complaints, investigations and advice and will make recommendations for any improvements to the accountability process.
The Registrar has the power to investigate complaints and to impose sanctions if lobbying activity has not been disclosed, or if an individual has contravened the Lobbyist Code of Conduct. Should the Registrar impose a sanction, it will be in the form of a temporary ban on communication. Notice of the temporary ban will be circulated to Members of Council and Town Staff and posted on the Town’s website.
Sanctions could be applied along the following incremental scale:
- For a first breach, the Lobbyist is banned from communicating with public office holders for 30 days
- For a second breach, the Lobbyist is banned from communicating with public office holders for 60 days
- In the event of a third breach, the Registrar has the discretion to determine an appropriate sanction
Members of Council and Town Staff are bound by their respective Codes of Conduct to refrain from communicating with individuals who have been found in contravention of the Lobbyist Registry By-law.
For more information on the Lobbyist Code of Conduct, please visit https://www.collingwood.ca/council-government/lobbyist-registry.
The Lobbyist Registry was created to be a low-cost, easy-to-use tool for the public, Members of Council and their Staff, and Town Staff. However, it may be determined that further enhancements are required based on feedback during the first year. Additionally, the Lobbyist Registrar will make rulings that establish how the Registry applies to specific circumstances, which may result in changes to the Registry over time.