Starting February 11, 2008, most contacts with municipal
officials in Toronto will require registration under the new
Lobbyists Registration Code (the "Code").
While the Code applies to many of the activities covered by
the broadly similar Federal and Ontario lobbyist registration
acts, it adds some new wrinkles, including requiring voluntary
lobbyists to register and imposing quite stringent deadlines
In the result, many activities that companies undertake with
the City of Toronto on a daily basis could require registration
by either the senior responsible person in the company or by
the lawyer or consultant acting on their behalf. Registering
means filing a return outlining among other things, information
about the company or client, the subject matter and the office
or public office holder being lobbied.
A "public office holder" includes the Mayor,
Councillors and their staff, all City of Toronto employees,
members of most local boards and agencies, their staff and
employees, and members of advisory boards and committees.
Failure to register could result in a fine of up to $25,000 in
the case of the first offence and $100,000 for subsequent
What Kinds of Activities Count as
An individual is considered to be lobbying if he or she is
communicating (via oral, written, or an electronic method) with
a public office holder outside of a public process, about
matters of interest or benefit to the lobbyist and their
client, business or organization. Communication may be about a
by-law, an existing or prospective policy or program, a
procurement, grant, permit or licence, planning approval, a
potential contract or on any matter that requires a decision by
City Council, a local board or a delegated decision maker.
Lobbying activities do not include: requesting information
or providing feedback on services or programs, communicating
about the application of an Act or by-law or administration or
a policy, program, directive or guideline, and communication
about a personal matter.
Who Must Register?
Any individual that:
is paid to lobby on behalf of clients ("Consultant
is employed by a business or association to lobby on
behalf of their employer ("In-house Lobbyists");
lobbies on behalf of a business or not-for-profit
organization without pay ("Voluntary
How to Register
Lobbyists must register prior to engaging in lobbying
activities and the deadlines are very tight. Lobbyists can
register free online through the Lobbyists Registration System
by providing the following information:
identification and contact information for each of the
lobbyist, client, business or organization for which the
lobbying is taking place (and, in some cases, parent or
identification and contact information of any entity or
organization that contributed $750 or more toward the
subject matter of the lobbying activity to be
name of the division or program of the City or local
board and the Member of Council that the lobbyist expects to
communication methods that the lobbyist expects to use;
information about any senior City or local board position
previously held by the lobbyist.
Where any of the information on the registry changes,
lobbyists must amend their registration within two business
days. Returns need not necessarily be amended for every
communication. One return can cover multiple communications
relating to the same subject matter. Lobbyists are also
required to confirm their registration information
Consultant lobbyists have the responsibility for filing
their own returns. For in-house lobbyists, the most senior
officer or staff of the organization is required to register.
Voluntary lobbyists register as consultant lobbyists unless
they are undertaking the lobbying as part of their employment
duties (i.e. are in-house lobbyists).
How Toronto's Registry Differs
One important difference between the City system and the
Federal and Ontario systems is when a lobbyist must file. While
the Federal and Ontario systems allow a lobbyist to file a
return ten days after commencing lobbying, the City system
requires registration before a lobbyist communicates
with public office holders. While under the Federal and Ontario
systems, subsequent changes or new information must be filed
within thirty days of the change, the City system requires that
changes must be reported within two business days.
Another difference of the Toronto system is the requirement
that voluntary lobbyists register. While the Federal and
Ontario systems exempt those who don't get paid to lobby,
the City system requires individuals who lobby on behalf of a
business or not-for-profit organization without pay to
The foregoing provides only an overview. Readers are
cautioned against making any decisions based on this material
alone. Rather, a qualified lawyer should be consulted.
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