Bill Tightens Lobbying Rules for Political Insiders

NDP proposal for two-year prohibition for former office holders called ‘good first step’ by Greens.

By Andrew MacLeod 3 Oct 2017 |

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative bureau chief in Victoria and the author of A Better Place on Earth: The Search for Fairness in Super Unequal British Columbia (Harbour Publishing, 2015). Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

The B.C. government introduced a bill that would ban many former public office holders from lobbying government for two years, which the Green Party has called a good first step.

“The goal of this unprecedented legislation in B.C. is to enact a strong, sweeping prohibition so that former public office holders can not unfairly use their insider knowledge and connections in order to influence government policy on behalf of corporations or organizations,” NDP Attorney General David Eby told reporters.

More changes are coming to the Lobbyists Registration Act, he said. “This is just the first step in reviewing the act.”

The two-year lobbying prohibition will affect former cabinet ministers, their staff (except for administrative staff), “parliamentary secretaries, deputy ministers, ministry CEOs, associate deputy ministers, or positions of an equivalent rank, including the two most senior positions at universities, institutions, school boards, health authority boards, hospitals, Workers Compensation Board, and a number of Crown corporations, agencies and associations.”

Eby said the full list of organizations affected will be included in regulations after the bill receives Royal assent.

The restriction on lobbying does not apply to backbench MLAs or to officials in political parties, who Eby said lack the insider knowledge of government decisions that the act seeks to address.

Adam Olsen, the Green Party MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, said the bill is an advance but he’d like to see further changes. “They’re initial steps,” he said. “There’s room to go... We’re going to continue to talk about it until we are leaders in this area.”

While lobbyists currently must register whom they intend to lobby, Olsen said they should be required to provide details on what they lobbied on, whom they actually lobbied, how many times and for how long.

“What’s most important is we get the rules tight and we get them to the point where we can be proud of them in British Columbia, and we’re not there yet so we’ll work towards that,” he said. “Putting that cooling off period in there is a good initial step.”

Olsen said he would support looking at including MLAs and party officials, who in many cases have “highly influential” information. “From my perspective, I personally want to go as far as we possibly can and we should to ensure the decision, the essence of the decision, is being made on behalf of the people of British Columbia.”

He added, “To me I think we should tighten this up to the tightest we can make it... We’re going to continue to advance this so we continue to be leaders in this.”  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics

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