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ARCHIVED - Government Commits to Accountability and Transparency in Lobbying

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For immediate release

September 17, 2012

Ottawa — The Honourable Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for FedNor, today indicated the Government's commitments to significantly broaden the scope of the Lobbying Act to include registered communications with an expanded range of public servants, a move that underscores the Government of Canada's ongoing commitment to transparency and fair dealing in government business.

The decision to expand the definition of a Designated Public Office Holder under the Lobbying Act responds to recommendations by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, which tabled a review of the Act in May 2012.

The Committee found the Lobbying Act is generally working well, but made 11 recommendations to improve transparency and compliance. The Government's response, tabled today, commits to defining additional positions that could be categorized as Designated Public Office Holders, based on, amongst other things, influence over the procurement process, oversight and decision-making power.

Until now, the Act's oversight has been limited to registered communications with deputy ministers, as well as associate and assistant deputy ministers, the top echelons of the public service. Ministers, members of Parliament and exempt staff also fall under the Act's purview. The Government will examine how to best frame the definition of a Designated Public Office Holder to ensure that appropriate positions beyond these levels are also included.

"The Harper government will take strong and unequivocal action to ensure that lobbyists' communication with Designated Public Office Holders who influence how to spend millions in taxpayer dollars will now be subject to the Lobbying Act," said Minister Clement. "The expanded category of Designated Public Office Holder will also be subject to the five year post employment restrictions. This is a victory for accountability and taxpayers' rights."

In its careful review of the Committee's recommendations, the Government has sought to strike a balance between greater transparency and a fair and measured approach to increased oversight. In moving forward on recommendations to broaden the definition of Designated Public Office Holders, the Government is taking targeted action designed to have the most impactful effect on accountability.

In certain cases, the Committee's recommendations require further consideration given their complexity.

"We take the Committee's recommendations seriously and we are committed to taking appropriate action to improve transparency and accountability, but without creating unnecessary administrative burden," Minister Clement said. "The Government is committed to ensuring that there is balance amongst the Act's objectives."

The Lobbying Act was amended in 2008 in keeping with provisions of the 2006 Federal Accountability Act to ensure that Canada's lobbying regime is amongst the most robust and comprehensive in the world.

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For more information, contact:

Sean Osmar
Press Secretary
Office of the President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for FedNor

Media Relations
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

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