POLITICS

New rules for lobbyists would include 'respect democratic institutions'

10/16/2014 01:52 EDT | Updated 12/16/2014 05:59 EST
Federal lobbyists will have to make sure their efforts to influence politicians and public officials on behalf of paying clients don't erode public confidence in government, under a proposed revamp of the existing code of conduct released by Lobbying Commissioner Karen Shepherd Thursday.

A new principle would "call on lobbyists to respect democratic institutions while representing the interests of their clients or employers," according to a consultation paper outlining Shepherd's suggested changes.

"When interacting with public office holders, their actions should not diminish public confidence and trust in government."

The revamped guidelines would also include both real and apparent conflicts of interest, and would add specific rules dealing with preferential access, political activities and gifts.

No meetings with friends, relatives

Consultant lobbyists would be barred from arranging meetings with public office holders who are friends or relatives, or with whom they have financial business dealings.

They would also not be permitted to lobby public office holders for whom they "had performed certain political activities for them" — if, that is, those activities could "create a sense of obligation which might bring into question the public office holder’s primary duty to uphold the public interest."

That rule would also apply to other public office holders within his or her "area of responsibility."

"The revised code is based on the comments and suggestions received in the 2013 consultation and on my own experience in administering the code," said Shepherd in a statement accompanying the release.

"The revised code will continue to benefit all Canadians by helping to ensure that federal lobbying is conducted in accordance with the highest ethical standards.”

Interested parties are invited to share their views on the proposed changes until Dec. 19.

Until the new code is finalized, the existing rules will remain in effect.