Canada: Federal Accountability Act

Last Updated: May 2 2006

I. Introduction

On April 11, 2006, the President of the Treasury Board introduced Bill C-2, An Act providing for conflict of interest rules, restrictions on election financing and measures respecting administrative transparency, oversight and accountability – more commonly known as the Federal Accountability Act. The massive omnibus legislation proposes to amend dozens of federal statues in an attempt to address growing concerns about a lack of ethical conduct and accountability in government. The overarching rationale for the legislation, which some critics have suggested is excessive, is to restore public confidence in the institutions of government.

The 192 page Federal Accountability Act contains some 317 sections and proposes new measures in thirteen separate areas including: the financing of political parties and candidates; strengthening the powers of both the Ethics Commissioner and Auditor General; toughening the rules governing lobbyists; creating a Parliamentary Budget Authority; establishing new methods for making government appointments; creating a government Procurement Auditor; providing protection for whistleblowers; and creating a Director of Public Prosecutions.

Given the substantial and substantive changes to a number of federal statutes, and given the size and complexity of the Federal Accountability Act, it is difficult to outline all of the proposed changes in any brief summary. There are, however, certain commitments that are of such undeniable importance that they are particularly worthy of mention. To that end, the following is a brief synopsis of some of the major changes brought forward by the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

II. Summary and Analysis of Legislative Amendments

The Federal Accountability Act will amend the Canada Elections Act to impose a complete ban on political contributions from corporations, unions, and organizations. Moreover, the annual contribution limit for private individuals will be significantly reduced from $5,000 to $1,000 per year. The amendments will also limit an individual candidate, nomination contestant or leadership contestant from using more than $1,000 of their own money, in addition to the general contribution limits, for their own campaigns. The Federal Accountability Act also prohibits individuals from either giving or receiving cash donations in excess of $20.

With respect to the practice and profession of lobbying, the Federal Accountability Act will amend the Lobbyist Registration Act (to be thereinafter called the Lobbying Act) to require lobbyists (consultant lobbyists as well as in-house lobbyists) to document on a monthly basis their in-person meetings and telephone conversations with senior public officials. The Commissioner of Lobbyists will have the authority to confirm the accuracy of the reports filed by lobbyists with the senior public officials in question. The Federal Accountability Act will enshrine in law the rule restricting ministers, ministerial staff, and senior public servants from engaging in lobbying activities for a period of five years after leaving the government. The new legislation will also prohibit lobbyists from charging or receiving contingency fees.

In the area of government procurement, the Federal Accountability Act provides for the creation of a Procurement Auditor to review procurement practices and complaints from potential suppliers for contracts with a monetary value of less than $25,000 for goods and $100,000 for services. The Procurement Auditor will also be charged with managing an alternative disputeresolution program for contracts and reviewing procurement practices on an ongoing basis to ensure fairness and transparency. Treasury Board officials confirm that the creation of the Procurement Auditor will not impact the existing jurisdiction of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal in this area.

The Federal Accountability Act will also expand the scope and powers of various statutes and offices to cover Crown corporations and other recipients of federal funding. The Act will expand the reach of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act to include organizations like the Office of Chief Electoral Officer, the Office of the Auditor General, the Commissioner of Lobbying, Canada Post, Via Rail, and the CBC. Similarly, the Act will give the Auditor General the power to inquire into the use of funds individuals and institutions receive from federal departments, agencies, or Crown corporations.

Lastly, the Federal Accountability Act will formally separate the Federal Prosecution Service from the Department of Justice in an effort to isolate federal criminal prosecutions from political influence. The move will result in the creation of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, which will be ultimately responsible for prosecuting federal offences throughout Canada and providing legal advice to investigative agencies and government departments in matters of criminal law. The office will also have the jurisdiction to prosecute offences under the new fraud provisions proposed under amendments to the Financial Administration Act.

III. Conclusion

According to the Prime Minister, the purpose of introducing the measures outlined in the Federal Accountability Act was both to restore a "culture of accountability" in the government and also to "strengthen and streamline government so that it can function more efficiently." While there is no question that the proposed amendments will increase the opportunity for Canadians to monitor the actions of the government and those that try to influence decisions of government, it remains to be seen whether the cumbersome mechanisms that have been created to facilitate access and accountability will improve the efficiency of government.

Corporations, organizations and individuals who engage in lobbying, bid on government procurement contracts, or receive federal funding through departments or agencies, will now be required to accept a sizeable number of administrative burdens. Whether these burdens will prove so onerous as to discourage cooperation between the public and private sectors will only become clear in the months and years ahead as these new provisions come into force. To that end, the Prime Minister and Treasury Board President have both made clear their hope that this new legislation will be passed before the House of Commons recesses in mid-June 2006.

If nothing else, as the government has itself suggested, the changes and amendments proposed today will almost certainly change the face of government for the foreseeable future.

BLG Government Relations Services

The Government Relations Group at Borden Ladner Gervais represents clients in their relations with governments in Canada at all levels - Municipal, Regional, Provincial and Federal and with Departments, Boards, Authorities and Agencies of each of those Governments.

BLG professionals bring extensive experience working within the public sector and maintaining excellent contact with key decision-makers. We provide insight with respect to new legislation, assessment of complex policies and identification of key contacts within the public service regardless of department and including appropriate elected officials.

Our services include:

  • Monitoring political policy developments
  • Analyzing the potential impact of emerging government policy and program changes on clients’ interests
  • Preparing briefs, submissions and presentations to governments on behalf of clients
  • Creating advocacy campaigns on behalf of clients, including communicating on behalf of clients with government decision-makers
  • Developing strategic advice that incorporates political agendas of the day with the technical expertise needed to meet the challenge of any public pronouncements

National Contact:
Colin P. MacDonald (Calgary)
Regional Contacts:
Robert A. Fyfe, (Montreal)
Hon. Gar Knutson (Ottawa)
Jack Hughes (Ottawa)
J. Stephen Andrews (Toronto)
Jeffrey S. Graham (Toronto)
Dirk Laudan (Vancouver

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions