Ontario Election 2022: Guidance for lobbyists this election season
This article is part of a series extensively covering the 2022 Ontario general election. It provides voters and business leaders a 360 degree view of all the rules and regulations affecting the campaign and voting, as well as insights into news and other developments this election season. It is intended as general guidance only.
To view the rest of our coverage, please visit Ontario Election 2022.
Lobbying doesn’t stop just because there’s an impending election. Indeed, Cabinet Ministers, their ministerial staff, and other public office holders continue to hold their respective offices throughout the election period and after (e.g., until a new minister is appointed).
If you’re a lobbyist – either in-house or consultant – you should be aware that the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario has issued both guidance documents and interpretation bulletins to help you understand how getting involved in an election campaign or doing other political work could affect your ongoing and future lobbying activities.
It is a breach of the Lobbyists Registration Act, 1998 (the “Act”) to knowingly place a public office holder in a position of a real or potential conflict of interest – an offence that can be investigated and penalized by the Integrity Commissioner. If lobbyists choose to take part in political activity for certain candidates seeking election or re-election, that activity may prohibit the lobbyist from lobbying that candidate in the future, if elected, or if they become “public office holders”, such as political staff or a public appointee. To learn more about conflicts of interest, and how they can affect your lobbying activities, see Interpretation Bulletin #11 by the Integrity Commissioner.
The Integrity Commissioner has also issued Guidance for Lobbyists During and After an Election – guidance to help lobbyists manage their registrations during and after the writ period. The key takeaways include:
- Lobbyists are not required to amend their registrations simply because the writ period is occurring, but they should continue to register their lobbying activities in the normal course, for all types of public office holders.
- However, lobbyists may have to amend their registration after the election. For example:
- If a Member of Provincial Parliament is not re-elected, or no longer oversees a specific parliamentary role or activity that they once did for which you lobbied them, then you should review and update your registration accordingly.
- If a Cabinet Minister you once lobbied switches ministries, or the ministry structure/name has changed, then you should review your registration(s) and update them accordingly.
- Certain provisions of the Members’ Integrity Act, 1994 continue to apply to Members of Provincial Parliament who are running for re-election during the writ period, such as the prohibition on accepting gifts.
Lobbyists must update their registrations within 30 days from the date of the change to remain compliant with the Act.
This article is part of our 2022 Ontario provincial election series. You can access related content here.
Have questions about working with complying with the rules this election season, or need help seeking an Advisory Opinion from the Integrity Officer with respect to a specific issue? The Public Sector experts at McCarthy Tétrault LLP can help. Please contact Awanish Sinha, Hartley Lefton, Amanda D. Iarusso, or Jacob Klugsberg if you have any questions or for assistance.
Discover more by reading our other articles on the 2022 Ontario general election:
- Ontario Election 2022: What you need to know about time off work for employees on Election Day
- Ontario Election 2022: What you need to know before selling political advertising on your platform
- Ontario Election 2022: What you need to know before you donate or advertise during an election
- Ontario Election 2022: Voting 101
- Ontario Election 2022: What you need to know about the caretaker convention
- Ontario Election 2022: The Ontario election has officially been called
- Ontario Election 2022: What you need to know about Political Events
- The Votes are In – 2022 Ontario Election Results