The Ontario Lobbyists Registration Act recently
underwent its first major revision since the legislation was passed
in 1998. Any business or non-profit organization whose employees or
directors communicate with Ontario public office holders needs to
be aware of these changes.
The most significant change for businesses and non-profit
organizations is the move from individual employee registrations to
a single entity-wide registration with a significantly lower
threshold for registration. The overall impact of these changes
will bring Ontario's lobbyist registration system more in line
with the federal system.
Under the old system:
Each employee of a business or
non-profit organization was responsible for filing his or her own
return with the Lobbyists Registrar.
The employee would only have to file
a return with the Lobbyists Registrar if he or she spent 20% of his
or her time engaged in lobbying, which the Office of the Integrity
Commissioner interpreted as meaning 96 hours over a three-month
Under the new system:
The senior officer of the business or
non-profit organization ("the most senior officer who is
compensated for the performance of his or her duties" –
the CEO or president) is required to file a return with the
Lobbyists Registrar setting out the names of all employees who are
engaged in lobbying. The return for a business also has to include
the names of any paid directors who are engaged in lobbying.
The senior officer has to file a
return if the employees and paid directors of a business or the
employees of a non-profit organization
collectively spend 50 hours or more lobbying in
the calendar year.
The amendments have also given the Lobbyists Registrar expanded
investigatory powers and increased the range of available
The Lobbyists Registrar has the
authority to investigate complaints received from the public or
launch an investigation on his or her own initiative into possible
breaches of the Lobbyists Registration Act. In the course
of the investigation, the Lobbyists Registrar can require any
person to provide documents or information relevant to the
investigation and can issue a summons to any person with relevant
information for examination.
In the event of a finding of
non-compliance, the Lobbyists Registrar can impose fines on
individuals of up to $25,000 for a first offence and $100,000 for
subsequent offences, impose a prohibition from lobbying in the
province for up to two years, and "name and shame" the
lobbyist by publishing a description of the individual's
conduct on the registry.
Businesses and non-profit organizations should also be aware of
the new restrictions on consultant lobbyists. Under the new system,
cannot accept contingency fees for
successful lobbying outcomes; and
cannot lobby a public office
holder if they are already providing paid advice or services to the
public office holder on the same subject.
Businesses and non-profit organizations that operate in Ontario
should take immediate steps to ensure they and their consultant
lobbyists continue to meet their obligations under the
Lobbyists Registration Act.
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Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions or GST.
Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, the Canada Pension Plan Act and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions.
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