Rules When Interacting with Lobbyists

On December 1, 2015, the Commissioner of Lobbying published an update to the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct.  The purpose of the code is to assure Canadians that the lobbying of federal public servants is done ethically and according to the highest standards, so that public confidence and trust in the integrity of government decision-making is enhanced.  It also ensures that we, as public servants, understand the behaviours we should expect from lobbyists.

The updated Code now includes rules that provide greater clarity to lobbyists with respect to the use of information received from public servants, preferential access, political activities and the provision of gifts, favours or other benefits.

Some of the elements in the Lobbyist’s Code of Conduct specifically implicate public servants:

Rule 5 : A lobbyist shall use and disclose information received from a public servant only in the manner consistent with the purpose for which it was shared.  If a lobbyist obtains a government document they should not have, they shall neither use nor disclose it.

This rule addresses the issue of improper disclosure of information.  Engagement with the private sector and other stakeholders is an essential part of the Office’s operations.  Such contact takes place every day and at many levels within our organization, and is necessary for the effective conduct of our business.  We share information with stakeholders for many legitimate purposes.  However, when information obtained from public servants is used improperly by third parties, the public interest may be adversely affected.

As such, prior to our interactions with lobbyists, it is important to clarify the purpose for which the information is being shared and inform them of any limitations or restrictions on how it can be shared.

Rule 10 – Gifts : To avoid the creation of a sense of obligation, a lobbyist shall not provide or promise a gift, favour, or other benefit to a public servant, whom they are lobbying or will lobby, which the public servant is not allowed to accept.

Lobbyist will be advised to check departmental Values and Ethics Code to determine the acceptability of gifts or other benefits when interacting with public servants.  The Values and Ethics Code for the Office is available to the public on our external website to help lobbyists comply with this rule.

If you have any question regarding the application of the new Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct, please consult the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada website.

For questions in regards to the acceptability of gifts from stakeholders, please consult the Office’s Values and Ethics Code or contact Daniel Nadeau, the Office’s Senior Official for Values and Ethics.

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