Canada: Doing Business In Canada 2019 - Governement Ethics, Transparency And Political Law

Last Updated: July 10 2019
Article by Fasken Martineau

Increased scrutiny and expectations for transparency in government make compliance with ethics and transparency rules as well as political laws an important strategy in helping to mitigate the risk of reputational damage and protect current and future business opportunities with government.

Lobbying Law

Lobbying in Canada is currently regulated at the federal level and in all ten provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Québec) and one territory (Yukon). Many municipalities have also passed similar lobbying laws. At the provincial- territorial level, only the Northwest Territories and Nunavut do not have lobbying laws in place. The laws typically distinguish between lobbyists who are working for clients and employees who lobby as part of their jobs. The former are called consultant lobbyists. The latter are known as in-house lobbyists (or enterprise lobbyists or organization lobbyists (Québec), or organization lobbyists (Alberta)). When employees of an organization communicate with government officials on behalf of an organization, they are subject to the in-house lobbyist provisions of the laws. In their coverage of in-house lobbying, some of the laws treat all in-house lobbyists the same, while others distinguish between in-house lobbyists for business corporations and in-house lobbyists for other (mostly not-for-profit) entities. Not all communication with government is subject to lobbyist registration. Further, in most places, a certain volume of in-house lobbying must occur before registration is required. Failure to register, accurately and completely, is an offence. In addition to the potential for conviction and fine, failure to comply with the law can cause reputational damage. With enforcement on the rise in recent years, it is important for corporations and organizations to understand applicable lobbying registration laws and to implement effective internal compliance mechanisms to deal with this emerging and complex field of law.

Conflicts of Interest, Gifts and Hospitality

The federal government, all provinces and territories, and many municipalities in Canada have conflict of interest laws that include rules that govern the acceptance of gifts and hospitality by government officials and public servants. Further, individual departments, agencies and Crown corporations often have their own conflict of interest rules that may apply as well.

In the majority of jurisdictions, no dollar-value limit determines whether a gift, hospitality or other benefit to a government official is acceptable. However, in every jurisdiction, government officials and public servants are prohibited from accepting any gift, hospitality or other benefit that may, either in fact or in appearance, influence their decision.

While a dollar-value limit does not usually determine whether a gift may be accepted, most jurisdictions do establish a threshold - at least for elected officials - that determines whether the gift must be disclosed. The responsibility for disclosure lies on the government official (recipient), not the giver. In some jurisdictions, disclosures become public; in other jurisdictions, disclosures remain with the appropriate ethics authority.

Even though it is the acceptance of the gift, and not necessarily the giving of the gift, that is caught by the rule, on a practical level, this distinction is immaterial. The acceptance of an improper gift or hospitality poses a significant risk of reputational damage if it were exposed, and could jeopardize future business opportunities with government as well.

Election Law

The amounts that can be donated to political parties and candidates, who is eligible to make these donations, and the amounts that parties and candidates can spend during election campaigns, are heavily regulated.

Corporate political contributions are prohibited federally, as well as in many provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Québec), and are capped in most other provinces. As well, in some provinces where corporate contributions are allowed, contributions by non-residents are prohibited. Non-monetary contributions such as office space or non-market discounts on services may also contravene election contribution rules.

The amounts that individuals can contribute are capped by federal law and in most provinces. By US standards, the limits are very low (e.g., as of January 2019, the annual contribution limits at the federal level are $1,600 to each registered party, and $1,600 in total among all the registered associations, nomination contestants and candidates of a party).

Spending by political parties and candidates is also capped in federal and provincial elections. In federal elections, the limits are determined primarily by the population of the electoral district and by US standards are low. The spending limit is proportionately reduced if a party fields candidates in fewer than all 338 electoral districts. This spending limit adjusts upward for each day that a campaign is longer than the minimum 37 days.

Political contribution rules vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and donations are heavily scrutinized by regulators. Improper donations can lead to significant reputational damage, and impact a corporation's or organization's ability to do business with government. For these reasons, it is very important to understand applicable election law before becoming involved in any way with the political process in Canada.

Download this chapter

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 Mondaq.com.

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

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please 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

Mondaq.com (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 www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com 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.

Disclaimer

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.

General

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