POLITICS

Opposition NDP questions delay on lobbyist legislation in Saskatchewan

03/14/2013 03:38 EDT | Updated 05/14/2013 05:12 EDT
REGINA - Saskatchewan Justice Minister Gord Wyant says the government doesn't plan to introduce lobbying legislation until the fall and the Opposition is questioning the holdup.

Wyant said Thursday that more consultation is needed.

"We want to make sure that we get this legislation right," said Wyant.

"Lobbying legislation is important. The people of this province need to know who's lobbying their elected officials. That's fair. But there's some circumstances that might not be appropriate, that don't need to be done, and so that's really what we want to get to."

The legislation would set up a registry of people who lobby politicians on behalf of companies and groups.

Wyant said some groups, such as universities, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities and the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association, are concerned about being on the list.

"For instance, SARM and SUMA help deliver programs for the government, so it just seemed to be counter-productive that they were required to register under this legislation when they're helping us deliver those programs," Wyant added.

"For the universities, their concerns were it's going to create a whole new level of bureaucracy within the universities, a lot of time consumed in trying to prepare the reports and comply with the legislation."

Premier Brad Wall said in December 2011 that a registry was long overdue. A committee also tabled a report with 23 recommendations last May.

The report said groups such as SUMA and SARM should have to register. But it also said municipal governments and charities should be exempt.

Opposition New Democrat John Nilson said the legislation would have been introduced and passed this session if it were a priority for the government.

"The premier seemed to be really wound up about getting a lobbyist registry right after the election and everybody worked hard, looked around, got a report and then it's just been sitting," said Nilson.

"It appears that some of the lobbyists have been lobbying the government to eliminate the lobby registry and that doesn't make sense."

The federal government and most other provinces already have lobbyist legislation.