Frequently Asked Questions

General

When did the Lobbyists Transparency Act (LTA) come into force?

May 4, 2020.

What happens to my registrations that were in the previous Lobbyists Registry? Will I have to re-enter everything or were they migrated over?

All of your registrations (both active and terminated) in the previous registry were migrated over to the new Lobbyists Registry.

You have until September 15, 2020, to log into the new Lobbyists Registry and update your active registrations.

You also have until September 15, 2020, to complete your first Monthly Return for any lobbying activities that occurred in May, June and July 2020 (beginning on May 4, 2020) in order to be compliant with the LTA.

How long do I have to register under the LTA?

Both consultant lobbyists and organizations have 10 days to file a new registration after beginning to lobby.

  • Consultant lobbyists have 10 days to file a registration after beginning to lobby on behalf of a client.

    “Beginning to lobby” means the date you first pick up the phone to arrange a meeting or when you first communicate with a public office holder for the purpose of influencing any of the matters referred to in the definition of “lobby”.
  • The designated filer of an organization must register within 10 days of the date the organization first has an in-house lobbyist.

    The “date the organization first has an in-house lobbyist” is the date you first pick up the phone to arrange a meeting or when you first communicate with a public office holder for the purpose of influencing any of the matters referred to in the definition of “lobby”.
How long do I have to make corrections requested by the Registry staff?

The Registrar of Lobbyists requires that all corrections and clarifications requested by Registry staff be completed within 10 calendar days.

When my Registration Return is activated by Lobbyists Registry staff, does this mean that all the details in my Registration Return have been verified and “approved” by the Registrar?

No. Registry staff check for obvious errors or omissions but do not have complete knowledge of the circumstances surrounding each registration, and therefore cannot “verify” or “approve” all of the information submitted in each of the hundreds of registrations in the Lobbyists Registry.

It is the on-going responsibility of each lobbyist to ensure that accurate information is entered into the Lobbyists Registry.

Accuracy of information is one of the primary concerns in any investigation.

In brief, compliance with the LTA and the obligation to correct any errors or misleading information remains the responsibility of the lobbyist, even after the registration has been accepted and activated by Registry staff.

What is the difference between my Registration Return and my Monthly Return?

Your Registration Return will contain information regarding the lobbying you intend to do.

Your Monthly Return will contain information regarding the lobbying you actually did in the previous month.

Is the information in my Registration Return and my Monthly Return available to the public?

Yes. The LTA sets out the information that must be disclosed in your Registration Return and Monthly Return. All information disclosed in a lobbyist’s Registration Return and Monthly Return (except contact email addresses) is published in the Lobbyists Registry, which is available online and searchable by the public.

Do all lobbying activities have to be registered?

No. Compliance does not always require registration, and not all lobbying activity requires registration. For example:

  • Volunteers are not required to register since they are not paid to communicate with public office holders.
  • Citizens may communicate with government officials on their own behalf without being required to register.
  • Certain communications with public office holders, such as a request for information, or responding to a written request from a public office holder for advice or comment, do not require registration.
  • Submissions made in proceedings that are a matter of public record to a committee of the Legislative Assembly, or to an authority having jurisdiction or powers conferred under legislation, do not require registration.
  • Members of other levels of government and members of their staff, or members of an aboriginal governing body in BC and members of their staff, are exempted from registration. Note: consultant lobbyists hired by other levels of government or an aboriginal governing body are required to register.
I know I only have 10 days to register after beginning to lobby. What if I don’t have all of the required details, such as government funding and coalition members?

Lobbyists should submit their registration on time in order to be in compliance with the LTA, and send an email to Registry staff advising that the required details will be provided within a specified time period.

We are a non-profit organization and we meet with our local MLA twice a year. Do we have to register in the Lobbyists Registry?

Yes, you would need to register if your communications with your MLA are attempting to influence government decisions. For more information, please see our Guidance Document for Organizations and Are you a lobbyist in BC?

Can the designated filer for an organization or a consultant lobbyist delegate the responsibility to prepare or file lobbying returns to another person?

Yes, the designated filer for an organization or a consultant lobbyist may delegate the responsibility to manage and prepare lobbying returns to another person. The person who manages the Registration Returns and the Monthly Returns will be able to create a “Representative” account in the Lobbyists Registry.

Once the designated filer (or consultant lobbyist) authorizes the Representative to have access to the organization’s filings, the Representative can enter, edit and communicate with Registry staff about the information in the filings. However, the designated filer is the only person who can “Certify” the information in the filing, because the designated filer is responsible for the content and accuracy of the information in the filings.

What are some activities that are not considered lobbying?

If an organization is strictly following an established process with the government or a Provincial entity, that any other member of the public would follow, this is not considered to be lobbying. However, if a lobbyist contacts a public office holder outside of an established public process, in an attempt to influence the decision in their favour, that activity would likely be considered lobbying, and registration would likely be required. Examples might include:

  • An application for government funding
  • An application for a permit
  • A labour negotiation with gov’t bodies
  • The negotiation of a lease between a commercial landlord and a government body as the tenant
  • A procurement or sales process, such as submitting a bid in response to a request for proposals (RFP)

Lobbyists Registry

I’ve forgotten the username for my account. What do I do?

Do not create a new account. Contact Registry staff at info@bcorl.ca.

I am the new senior officer for an organization. How do I get access to my organization’s Registration Returns and Lobbying Activity Reports?

If you have never had an account in the Lobbyists Registry, you will first need to create an account. During account creation you will be prompted to enter the name of the organization. Make sure it exactly matches the name of the organization in the most recent Registration Return. The Lobbyists Registry will then begin the transfer process on your behalf.

If you already have an existing account in the Lobbyists Registry, email Registry staff at info@bcorl.ca to initiate the transfer of your organization’s Registration Returns and Lobbying Activity Reports.

See the document User Guide - Account Management for more information.

How do I declare which MLAs are being lobbied in my Registration Return?

NEW to the new Lobbyists Registry – you no longer are required to identify the specific MLAs you are lobbying in your Registration Return, only in the Monthly Return Lobbying Activity Reports.

You will however have to declare that you are generally lobbying Member(s) of the BC Legislative Assembly.

On Step 7 of your Registration Return, when you are asked to identify the Ministries/Provincial Entities that have been lobbied or are intended to be lobbied, from the drop-down list select “Member(s) of the BC Legislative Assembly”.

Please see one of the following user guides for more assistance:

  • User Guide - Consultant Lobbyist Registration Returns
  • User Guide - Organization Registration Returns
I need to update my legal name in my account and/or on my Registration Return(s). How do I do that?

You cannot update the name on your account. If you have had a legal name change, or need to change the name on your account for any other reason, please email Registry staff at info@bcorl.ca.

If the senior officer of an organization has changed, the new senior officer must create their own account and initiate a transfer of the organization’s Registration Returns and Lobbying Activity Reports. See the document User Guide - Account Management for more information.

What is the difference between a Monthly Return and a Lobbying Activity Report? (Possibly in addition to, or another way of clarifying, the FAQ that already exists about the difference between a Registration Return and a Monthly Return.)

The Lobbying Activity Report(s) are part of the Monthly Return requirements.

Lobbyists are required to file a Monthly Return no later than the 15th day of the following month beginning with the month after the Registration Return is first filed.

The Monthly Return includes:

  • Updating to your Registration Return to ensure it is up to date
  • Creating a Lobbying Activity Report for each lobbying activity involving senior public office holders

As part of your Monthly Return you will also be asked to confirm:

  • Gifts and benefits given or promised to a public office holder you are lobbying
  • Any political, sponsorship or recall contributions made

In the Lobbyists Registry, when you choose to start a new Lobbying Activity Report you will automatically be starting the process of the entire Monthly Return at that time.

Lobbying

What are the key elements of activities considered to be “lobbying”?

The lobbyist

  1. is paid
  2. to communicate or to arrange a meeting for the purpose of lobbying
  3. with a public office holder
  4. in an attempt to influence any of the matters set out in the LTA definition of “lobby”.

For more information, see Are you a lobbyist in BC?

Does “payment” in the LTA only include monetary payment?

No. The LTA defines “payment” to mean money or anything of value, including a contract, promise, or agreement to pay money or anything of value, not including a reimbursement of expenses. “Payment” therefore includes, but is not limited to, monetary payment.

If I communicate with a public office holder on behalf of a client or my organization to get information about a policy or program, is that considered lobbying?

Lobbying entails an attempt to influence. If the communication with the public office holder only involves asking questions to obtain information about particular policies or programs, without any attempt to influence the government or a Provincial entity in any way, then that communication would not be considered lobbying.

A note of caution is required. Communication with a public office holder to seek information may also include communications which attempt to influence the government or a Provincial entity in some way. If that is the case, the communication would be considered lobbying.

If I meet with a public office holder to provide information about my client’s or my organization’s project, is that considered lobbying?

Lobbying entails an attempt to influence. If the communication with the public office holder only involves the lobbyist providing information, without any attempt to influence the government or a Provincial entity in any way, then that communication would not be considered lobbying.

A note of caution is required. Communication with a public office holder to provide information may also include communications which attempt to influence the government or a Provincial entity in some way. If that is the case, the communication would be considered lobbying.

For example, if one of the reasons for making the public office holder aware of the project is to obtain funding for the project, to encourage legislation, regulations, programs, policies, or guidelines that support the project, or to obtain a contract for your client with the government or a Provincial entity with respect to the project, then the meeting would be considered lobbying.

Do I need to include lobbying activities directed at municipal governments, the federal government, or the governments of provinces other than British Columbia in my Registration Return and Monthly Return?

No. The BC Lobbyists Registry should only reflect the lobbying of BC public office holders at the provincial level.

I work for a union and we are in contract negotiations with the provincial government. Are we lobbying?

Likely not. Generally, discussions during established processes, such as labour negotiations, would not be considered communication for the purpose of lobbying. However, if a union chose to hire an outside consultant to engage in discussions with public office holders who were not part of the established collective bargaining process, those communications would likely constitute lobbying. As well, if a union sought, in the context of collective bargaining, changes to the Labour Relations Code, such communications could constitute lobbying because legislative change is not within the scope of normal collective bargaining.

Arranging a Meeting

If I attempt to set up a meeting between my client and a “senior public office holder” for the purpose of lobbying and the meeting request is refused at the outset, does this have to be reported?

No, the attempt to arrange a meeting when no meeting was ever arranged does not need to be reported. If the meeting was refused, it was never “arranged.”

If an administrative assistant simply arranges a meeting between a public office holder and any other individual (e.g. an in-house lobbyist) for the purpose of lobbying, is that considered lobbying and should the administrative assistant be registered as an in-house lobbyist?

If the person arranging a meeting is not an in-house lobbyist, they do not have to be registered simply because they have arranged a meeting for the purposes of lobbying.

Under the LRA, the person arranging the meeting would have to be an in-house lobbyist for paragraph (b) in the definition of “lobby” in the LTA to apply.

In other words, if an administrative assistant does nothing else that qualifies them as an in-house lobbyist, then simply arranging a meeting for the purposes of lobbying does not make them an in-house lobbyist.

If I set up a meeting between my client and a “senior public office holder” that later gets cancelled, do I have to report that I arranged that meeting as part of my requirement to file a Monthly Report?

Yes, the fact that a meeting was arranged between your client and a “senior public office holder” is a lobbying activity that must be reported in your Lobbying Activity Report because the meeting was, at one point in time, “arranged.”

Do I have to be arranging a meeting for someone else with a “senior public office holder”? Does it count if I arrange a meeting for myself with a “senior public office holder”?

You only need to report that you arranged a meeting if you arrange a meeting for someone else with a “senior public office holder.”

If I set up a meeting for my client to meet with the minister of Education, and then a month later I attend that same meeting with the minister and my client, do I have to record that I both arranged and I attended the meeting in the Lobbyists Registry?

Yes, both of these activities are considered lobbying activities and must be recorded in the Lobbyists Registry as separate lobbying activities, in addition to naming the “senior public office holder” who was the object of your lobbying activity in each case.

Coalitions

What is a coalition?

The term “coalition” means an alliance of separate entities or persons that have joined together for a common purpose or action.

The members of the coalition remain independent organizations or individuals, united only by a common goal.

A coalition (separate entities) is distinct from an association (a single entity, even if member-based). If there is one legal entity, it is an association. If there are several legal entities that are operating together under a common unincorporated name or banner, then it is a coalition.

If an organization is its own legal entity, it would not be identified in the Lobbyists Registry as a coalition.

Alternatively, if the organization is a more loosely based coalition that could not be considered its own legal entity, all the members of the coalition, and their business addresses, should be entered in the appropriate fields.

Link to “Guidance on Coalitions

If my client or organization is a coalition, or a member of a coalition, what information must I include in the Lobbyists Registry?

Consultant lobbyists and designated filers for organizations are required to list the name and business address of each member of the coalition.

What if I don’t know whether my client or organization is a coalition or a member of a coalition?

Due diligence is required. If in doubt, lobbyists need to find out whether the client or organization is a coalition or a member of a coalition, and if so, obtain the names and business addresses of each member of the coalition, so as to enter accurate information in the Lobbyists Registry.

What if my client or organization is a member of a coalition that is not related to the lobbying activities being reported?

The consultant lobbyist or the designated filer for an organization must identify any coalition to which the client or organization belongs if the purpose of the coalition is related to the lobbying activities engaged in by the client or organization.

Affiliates and Others

What must be reported?

The LTA requires that the following information be entered in the Lobbyists Registry:

  • If the client or organization that is lobbying is a corporation, the designated filer must list the name and business address of each “affiliate” (as that term is defined in the Business Corporations Act) of the corporation that has a direct interest in the outcome of the lobbying activities being reported;

  • In particular, if the client or organization is a corporation that is a parent or subsidiary of another corporation, the designated filer of the client or organization that is lobbying must also list the name and business address of the other corporation(s);

  • Whether or not the client or organization is a corporation, the designated filer must list the name and business address of any person or organization that “controls or directs the activities of the client or organization” that is lobbying and has a “direct interest in the outcome of the lobbying activities” that are being reported; and

  • The designated filer must list the name and business address of any person or organization (other than a government, government agency, or Provincial entity), with a “direct interest in the outcome of the lobbying activity” that contributed at least $1000 within the preceding 12 months toward the lobbying activity being reported.

The designated filer is required to declare this information in the Registration Return after making reasonable enquiries. Note that the LTA defines the term “designated filer” to include a consultant lobbyist or, in the case of an organization that has in-house lobbyists, the most senior paid officer of the organization who receives payment for performing their functions.

For more information, see Business Relationships: Affiliates and Others with an Interest in Lobbying Activities.

Which of these requirements already existed, prior to the changes introduced by the LTA?

The LTA requires corporations that are lobbying to declare subsidiaries or parent corporations and this was required long before May 4, 2020.

The LTA adopts the definition of “affiliate” found in the Business Corporations Act, which states:

For the purposes of this Act, one corporation is affiliated with another corporation if

(a) one of them is a subsidiary of the other,

(b) both of them are subsidiaries of the same corporation, or

(c) each of them is controlled by the same person.

Among other business relationships, a corporation is “affiliated” with another corporation if one of them is a subsidiary of the other, if both of them are subsidiaries of the same corporation, or if each of them is controlled by the same person. Note: corporations that are lobbying must declare parent corporations, even if it is not apparent that the parent corporations have a direct interest in the outcome of the lobbying activities.

What has changed under the LTA about reporting third party interests in lobbying activities?

New provisions in the LTA go beyond requiring designated filers to identify subsidiaries and parent corporations. The new requirements are as follows:

  • A consultant lobbyist or designated filer for an organization that is lobbying must, after making reasonable enquiries, provide the name and business address of any third party (individual or organization) that to their knowledge “controls or directs the activities of the client or organization” and has a “direct interest in the outcome of the lobbying activities” being reported.
  • A consultant lobbyist or designated filer for an organization that is lobbying must, after making reasonable enquiries, provide the name and business address of any third party (individual or organization other than a government, government agency, or Provincial entity), with a “direct interest in the outcome of the lobbying activity” that contributed at least $1,000 within the preceding 12 months toward the lobbying activity being reported.
What if the designated filer is not sure whether there are affiliates, funding contributors, or others with a direct interest in the outcome of the lobbying activities that must be listed in the Lobbyists Registry?

Designated filers must exercise due diligence; the LTA requires that the designated filer make “reasonable enquiries” to acquire that information. If a consultant lobbyist or designated filer for an organization requests this information from their client or organization, in writing, and follows-up appropriately if no response is received, the Registrar will generally consider that the requirement for due diligence has been met. The Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists has posted a sample questionnaire for this purpose, that lobbyists may use to acquire that information.

What constitutes “reasonable enquiries” about whether a third party “controls or directs” the activities of the client or organization?

The Registrar expects at a minimum that, in every case as a matter of due diligence, a consultant lobbyist or designated filer for an organization that is lobbying will be able to demonstrate to the Registrar that they have asked their client or organization about the following matters:

  1. The name and business address of the person or organization that is the majority shareholder in the corporation that is lobbying must be declared in the Registration Return. A majority shareholder, by virtue of their financial stake in the company, will have a “direct interest” in the outcome of the lobbying activities and generally has the legal power to control the election of the board of directors.
  1. If the corporate constitution or bylaws, or instrument such as a trust or shareholder agreement, give majority voting rights or management power to a different individual or organization, the name and business address of that person or organization must be declared in the Registration Return.
  1. If there is a third party that exercises substantial influence over the shareholders who have the right and ability to control the election of the board of directors, whether by contractual conditions or via another basis, that results in the third party having a direct interest in the outcome of the lobbying activities, the name and business address of that person or organization must be declared in the Registration Return.
  1. If there is any other third party individual or organization that controls or directs, and has a direct interest in the outcome of the lobbying activities, the name and business address of that person or organization must be declared in the Registration Return. For example, a written or unwritten agreement may give a third party the right to determine the activities of the client, whether that agreement arises from conditions attached to funding or whether the agreement imposes a right of control.
What constitutes “reasonable enquiries” about whether a third party contributed at least $1,000 toward the lobbying activities and has a direct interest in the outcome?

The Registrar expects that the consultant lobbyist or designated filer for an organization that is lobbying will, as a matter of due diligence, enquire with the client or organization for the purpose of identifying any third parties that provided at least $1,000 in funding and have a direct interest in the outcome of the lobbying activities. Follow-up enquiries, as a matter of due diligence, are reasonably necessary if no response is received. The Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists has posted a sample questionnaire for this purpose that lobbyists may use to acquire that information.

When must this information be registered?

Lobbyists must include this information in the Registration Return if relevant circumstances exist at the time of registration. If relevant circumstances develop after the initial Registration Return is submitted, lobbyists must update the Registration Return at the time of completing the next Monthly Return.

Political, Sponsorship and Recall Contributions

How is “political contribution” defined in the LTA?

The LTA defines “political contribution” by reference to the Election Act - a political contribution is a contribution as defined in section 180 of the Election Act and that must be reported under section 206 or 210 of that Act. Political contributions for the purposes of the LTA include contributions made to an MLA being lobbied, or to their political party, or constituency association, and are an amount of money or the value of property or services provided, with limited exceptions such as for volunteer services.

Elections BC has issued guidance regarding political contributions.

Elections BC also has a search tool for past political contributions.

For more information, see Reporting Political, Sponsorship and Recall Contributions.

How is “sponsorship contribution” defined in the LTA?

The LTA defines “sponsorship contribution” by reference to the Election Act - a sponsorship contribution is a contribution as defined in section 235.02 of the Election Act and that must be reported under section 243.01 or 244 of that Act. Sponsorship contributions are contributions made to a third-party sponsor for the purpose of sponsoring election advertising and are an amount of money or the value of property or services provided, with limited exceptions. They are made to a third party rather than directly to an MLA or their political party, and for the purposes of the LTA that third party in turn sponsors election advertising to promote the election of an MLA or that MLA’s political party.

Elections BC has issued guidance regarding sponsorship contributions.

Elections BC also has a search tool for past sponsorship contributions.

How is “recall contribution” defined in the LTA?

The LTA defines “recall contribution” by reference to the Recall and Initiative Act - a recall contribution is a contribution as defined in section 1 of the Recall and Initiative Act and that must be reported under section 124 of that Act. Recall contributions include contributions toward a petition to recall an MLA, made to an MLA being lobbied, or to that MLA’s political party or constituency association, and are an amount of money or the value of any property or services provided with limited exceptions.

Elections BC has issued guidance regarding recall contributions.

What are the LTA rules on political contributions?

Under the LTA, a political contribution must be declared in the Lobbyists Registry if the contribution has been made by a lobbyist (or a consultant lobbyist’s client) to an MLA that is the subject of a Lobbying Activity Report, or to that MLA’s political party or constituency association.

Note that political contributions of any amount are reportable under the Elections Act, whether published or not by Elections BC, because all political contributions are reportable while only some are required to be published. This means that lobbyists must declare political contributions of any amount made to an MLA who is the subject of a Lobbying Activity Report, or to that MLA’s political party or constituency association.

Consultant lobbyists and in-house lobbyists must declare in the Lobbyists Registry whether, since the date the writ was issued for the last provincial election (April 11, 2017), they made a political contribution to an MLA they are lobbying, or to the political party or constituency association of an MLA they are lobbying.

Consultant lobbyists who have clients who are “eligible individuals” as defined in the Election Act and who have made political contributions to an MLA they are lobbying, or to the political party or constituency association of an MLA they are lobbying, must also declare that contributions were made by the client.

The LTA requires only that a lobbyist declare the fact that a political contribution has been made. Details about the amount of the contribution, and to whom it was made, are not required to be entered into the Lobbyists Registry.

Elections BC has a search tool for past political contributions.

Elections BC has issued guidance regarding political contributions.

Transition rule for April 11 to Nov. 30, 2017: The date the writ was issued for the last provincial election is April 11, 2017. The rule that corporations, unions, and other organizations are not permitted to make political contributions came into effect November 30, 2017. Until the writ is issued for the next provincial election, consultant lobbyists with clients that are organizations, such as corporations and unions, must declare whether political contributions were made by their clients between April 11, 2017, and November 30, 2017.

What are the LTA rules on sponsorship contributions?

Under the LTA, consultant lobbyists and in-house lobbyists must declare in the Lobbyists Registry whether, since the date the writ was issued for the last provincial election (April 11, 2017), they made a sponsorship contribution to a third-party sponsor that sponsors election advertising directly promoting the election of an MLA who is the subject of a Lobbying Activity Report, or to that MLA’s political party.

Note: Sponsorship contributions of any amount are reportable under the Elections Act, whether published or not by Elections BC, because all contributions are reportable while only some are required to be published. This means that lobbyists must declare sponsorship contributions of any amount made to an MLA who is the subject of a Lobbying Activity Report or to that MLA’s political party.

Consultant lobbyists who have clients who are “eligible individuals” as defined in the Election Act, and who have made sponsorship contributions to a sponsor directly promoting the election of an MLA they are lobbying, or to the political party of an MLA they are lobbying, must also declare if sponsorship contributions were made by their client.

The LTA requires only that a lobbyist declare the fact that a sponsorship contribution has been made. Details about the amount of the contribution, and to whom it was made, are not required to be entered into the Lobbyists Registry.

Elections BC also has a search tool for past sponsorship contributions.

Elections BC has issued guidance regarding sponsorship contributions.

Transition rule for April 11 to Nov. 30, 2017: the date the writ was issued for the last provincial election is April 11, 2017. The rule that corporations, unions, and other organizations are not permitted to make sponsorship contributions came into effect November 30, 2017. Until the writ is issued for the next provincial election, consultant lobbyists with clients that are organizations, such as corporations and unions, must declare sponsorship contributions made by their clients between April 11, 2017, and November 30, 2017.

How will I know if my contribution was used for directed advertising?

In some cases, a contribution is not allocated for directed advertising until well after the contribution is made. Lobbyists should assume that any sponsorship contribution has been, or may be, used for directed advertising.

What if I made a contribution last year and it was dedicated toward being a sponsorship contribution this year?

If a contribution is turned into a sponsorship contribution, the third party will ask you for consent, and at that point you would declare this as a sponsorship contribution in the Lobbyists Registry.

What are the LTA rules on recall contributions?

Under the LTA, certain recall contributions must be declared.

Consultant lobbyists and in-house lobbyists must declare in the Lobbyists Registry whether – since the date the writ was issued for the last provincial election – they made a recall contribution, to an MLA they are lobbying, or to that MLA’s political party or constituency association.

Consultant lobbyists who have clients who are “eligible individuals” as defined in the Recall and Initiative Act, where that client has made a recall contribution to an MLA they are lobbying, or to that MLA’s political party or constituency association, must also declare that a contribution was made by the client.

The LTA requires only that a lobbyist declare the fact that a recall contribution has been made. Details about the amount of the contribution, and to whom it was made, are not required to be entered into the Lobbyists Registry.

Elections BC has issued guidance regarding recall contributions.

Transition rule: the date the writ was issued for the last provincial election is April 11, 2017. The rule that corporations, unions, and other organizations are not permitted to make recall contributions came into effect November 8, 2018. Until the writ is issued for the next provincial election, consultant lobbyists with clients that are organizations, such as corporations and unions, must declare recall contributions made by their clients between April 11, 2017 and November 8, 2018.

Where can I get more information about contributions that have been made?

Information about political, sponsorship, and recall contributions can be found on Elections BC’s website.

What if the consultant lobbyist’s client’s potential contributions have not yet been posted by Elections BC?

The political and sponsorship contribution information disclosed by Elections BC only identifies contributors who have donated more than $250 during a reporting period, and generally filed for a previous calendar year or electoral event. Therefore, it may not include all contributions made to date.

The LTA requires due diligence by lobbyists. Whether or not contributions have been posted on the Elections BC website, lobbyists must be able to demonstrate to the Registrar they asked their client whether any contributions had been made in the relevant time frame, and that they requested that the client keep the lobbyist up to date with regard to any contributions. Lobbyists are advised to ask their clients in writing about any contributions made and to keep a record of the responses. The Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists has posted a sample questionnaire for this purpose that lobbyists may use to acquire that information.

I am a consultant lobbyist working for a consulting firm. The contract for lobbying is between the consulting firm and the client, not with me. Does that mean I don’t have to report my political, sponsorship, and recall contributions?

Based on the language used in the LTA, it is the individual lobbyist who must report their political, sponsorship, and recall contributions. This is the case even where the contract for lobbying is between the consulting firm and the client.

I am an in-house lobbyist working for an organization that is lobbying. Do I have to report the political, sponsorship, and recall contributions that I have made?

Based on the language used in the LTA, an individual in-house lobbyist must report their political, sponsorship, and recall contributions. This is the case even though it is the organization that is directing the lobbying efforts.

When would I contact Elections BC?

After reading this guidance document, if you have specific questions about whether a certain contribution qualifies as a political, sponsorship, or recall contribution, or questions about whether a lobbyist or lobbyist’s client has made a political, sponsorship, or recall contribution as described above, contact Elections BC at:

Provincial Electoral Finance

Elections BC
Phone: 250-387-5305

Email: electoral.finance@elections.bc.ca
Website: www.elections.bc.ca

When would I contact the ORL?

After reading this guidance document, if you have questions about the requirements of the LTA, contact the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists for BC for assistance at info@bcorl.ca

Gifts

What are the three key elements of the LTA regarding gifts?
  1. Prohibition: The LTA prohibits a lobbyist from giving or promising to give, directly or indirectly, any gift to any public office holder the lobbyist is lobbying.
  2. Exception test: A gift to a public office holder whom the lobbyist is lobbying is only acceptable if it meets both parts of the two-part test in the LTA:
  • The gift is given or promised under the protocol or social obligations that normally accompany the duties or responsibilities of office of the public office holder; AND
  • The total value of gifts given or promised to the public office holder by the lobbyist in accordance with protocol or social obligations over any given 12-month period is less than $100.
  1. Reporting requirement: The LTA requires that ALL gifts given or promised to be given by a lobbyist to ALL public office holders the lobbyist is lobbying must be declared.

For more information, see Lobbyist Gifts.

What are some examples of gifts given or promised “under the protocol or social obligations that normally accompany the duties or responsibilities of office of the public office holder”?
  • A token of gratitude or courtesy when a public office holder has an official function such as keynote speaker, moderator, or ribbon-cutter;
  • A gift offered by a lobbyist as a token of gratitude or courtesy when a public office holder does not have an official role at the event but attendance of the public office holder is generally part of their duties (for example, where an MLA attends an event in their constituency such as the opening ceremonies of a public event or a charity fundraiser);
  • A gift offered to a public office holder attending an event, meeting, conference, or other function in an official capacity, whether or not the public office holder has an active role, if given by a lobbyist representing a cultural or social group that traditionally offers gifts to express gratitude or commemorate an occasion.
What is considered a gift?

A gift is anything of value given or promised for free or at a reduced rate.

Gifts may include:

  • Meals, beverages or other hospitality
  • Invitations to receptions
  • Money in any form (cash, cheque, bank draft, gift certificate)
  • Tangible gifts such as gift baskets, alcoholic beverages, flowers, chocolate, art, or jewelry
  • Tickets to sporting, cultural, or speaking events
  • Box seats
  • VIP passes not available to the public
  • A service (spa, ski pass, transportation such as car & driver or private aircraft)
  • Use of property or facilities (use of a vehicle, golf facilities, hotel room, residence, or other accommodation)
Which gifts from a lobbyist to a public office holder must be declared in the Lobbyists Registry?

ALL gifts given by a lobbyist, or by an organization that employs lobbyists, to a public office holder the lobbyist is lobbying, must be declared.

Are gifts under $100 acceptable no matter what?

No. The value of a gift from a lobbyist to a public office holder they are lobbying does not determine whether it is acceptable.

If the gift does not meet the first part of the exception test, then the gift is prohibited, regardless of value.

Once gifts from a lobbyist to a public office holder they are lobbying exceed $100 in value, when can another gift be given or promised to that public office holder?

Lobbyists are prohibited from exceeding that $100 limit in any given 12-month period. This is a rolling calculation. Lobbyists must keep track of gifts given or promised to each public office holder they are lobbying to ensure they do not exceed $100 per public office holder per lobbyist in any given 12-month period.

How do lobbyists declare gifts to public office holders?

All gifts given or promised by a lobbyist to a public office holder the lobbyist is lobbying must be declared in the lobbyist’s Registration Return. This includes gifts that meet the exception test.

A gift given or promised but not declared is a contravention of the LTA, including those that are incident to protocol or social obligations and under the $100 limit.

Which gift details need to be declared?

If a lobbyist or an organization that is lobbying gives or promises a gift to a public office holder they are lobbying, they must declare:

  • the name of the public office holder
  • a description of the gift
  • the value of the gift
  • the date the gift was given or promised, and
  • the circumstances under which the gift was given or promised.
Which public office holders are covered by the provisions regarding gifts in the LTA?

In addition to MLAs and ministers and their political staff, the term “public office holder” includes public service employees of core government, Crown corporations, universities, health authorities, and other Provincial entities.

Are there other rules about gifts that public office holders can accept?
  • The Members’ Conflict of Interest Act governs what elected members of the legislative assembly (MLAs), including members of cabinet, may accept in the way of gifts. The Conflict of Interest Commissioner oversees that Act.
  • BC Public Service employees subject to the Standards of Conduct for Public Service Employees may not accept a gift that arises out of employment unless the gift is of nominal value, the exchange creates no obligation, reciprocation is easy, and it occurs infrequently. Public service employers are responsible for overseeing the BC Public Service Standards of Conduct.
  • Political staff such as ministerial or executive assistants in a minister’s office, who are subject to the Standards of Conduct for Political Staff Regulation, may not accept a gift that arises out of employment unless the gift is of nominal value, the exchange creates no obligation, reciprocation is easy, and it occurs infrequently. Managers of political staff and/or the chief of staff to the premier are responsible for overseeing the Standards of Conduct for Political Staff.
How is the value of a gift calculated?

The total market value (including fees and service charges) of the item, service, or hospitality offered to the public office holder for free, or at a discount, must be taken into account.

For tickets to events, the market value is the face value amount plus any fees and service charges that any member of the public would pay for the ticket.

For events where food, beverages, entertainment, or other hospitality will be provided, lobbyists must determine the value of what is offered to each public office holder invited to the event by taking into account the total cost of the event (including venue rental costs, food/catering costs, bar/beverage costs, service costs, music or entertainment costs, transportation costs, and any other costs involved in hosting the event) and then dividing that total cost by the total number of people invited to attend.

How is the value of a gift calculated for a guest of a public office holder?

If a gift is offered to a guest of a public office holder, the same considerations apply as if it were offered to the public office holder directly. The value of the gift to the guest must be included in the total value of what is offered to the public office holder.

When more than one public office holder is invited, how should the value of hospitality for each public office holder be calculated and declared by each lobbyist?

Calculation:

The cost of hospitality to be declared is the total cost divided by the number of people invited. For example, a group of 40 MLAs is invited to a luncheon paid for by an industry association wanting to inform the MLAs of its concerns regarding a particular aspect of proposed legislation. Five in-house lobbyists from the industry association attend and speak to the MLAs. The cost of the luncheon is $25 per person X 45 people invited (40 MLAs plus 5 lobbyists) = $1,125.00.

Declaration:

The organization declares a $25 gift for each public office holder invited.

This is the case even if not all of the public office holders invited attend the event.

This is the case even if not all of the organization’s in-house lobbyists attend the event because it is the organization that sponsored the event, not the individual in-house lobbyists.

Other than invitations to receptions or luncheons, if a lobbyist offers a gift that is not accepted by the public office holder, does the gift or promise need to be declared?

No.

As a consultant lobbyist, if I invite a number of public office holder to attend a reception hosted by my client, do I need to declare this invitation as a promise of a gift in the Lobbyists Registry?

No, you would not need to declare this promise of a gift in the Lobbyists Registry. As you are extending the invitation on behalf of your client—it is your client not you that is promising this gift to the public office holders.

What if a lobbyist gives a public office holder they are lobbying a gift but does not declare it?

Failing to declare a gift given or promised is a contravention of the LTA.

What if a lobbyist gives a public office holder gifts that add up to more than $100 in a given 12-month period?

Giving a gift to a public office holder (whom the lobbyist is lobbying) that does not meet both parts of the exception test is also a contravention of the LTA.

If I am friends with a Minister whom I lobby on behalf of my client, can I give a birthday gift to my friend (the Minister)?

No, if you are a lobbyist you are prohibited from giving a gift to a public office holder you are lobbying, regardless of your personal friendship.

If I am a lobbyist and I buy a ticket to an event hosted by a public office holder, am I violating the gift giving prohibition in the LTA?

No. The gift giving prohibition applies to a “gift or benefit” where there is no obligation of reimbursement.

If you personally purchase a ticket to attend a public office holder’s event, the ticket purchase proceeds are akin to a payment made in exchange for a good or service (i.e. attendance of the event). The ticket purchase proceeds therefore are not a “gift or benefit” to the public office holder.

Compliance

Who is the Registrar?

The Registrar of Lobbyists for BC is an independent Officer of the Legislature, appointed by a unanimous motion of the Legislative Assembly. The LTA designates the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC as the Registrar of Lobbyists.

What are the Registrar’s functions and powers?

The Registrar:

  • oversees and enforces compliance with the LTA and regulations;
  • conducts investigations;
  • maintains the Lobbyists Registry;
  • ensures public accessibility to the information contained in the Lobbyists Registry; and
  • promotes compliance and awareness through public education.
What is considered non-compliance under the LTA?

Non-compliance under the LTA may include, but is not limited to:

  • failing to register;
  • registering late;
  • providing information that is not accurate;
  • lobbying when prohibited;
  • failing to declare a gift given; and
  • failing to declare a political, sponsorship or recall contribution.

For the full list see the ORL’s Guide to Investigations.

What happens if the Registrar believes I have not complied with my legal obligations under the LTA?

The Registrar will conduct a preliminary investigation. After the preliminary investigation, if there are grounds to believe you have not complied with provisions of the LTA or its regulations, the Registrar must advise you of the alleged contravention and provide you an opportunity to respond.

After giving you an opportunity to be heard, if the Registrar determines you have not complied with the LTA’s provisions or its regulations, you will be given notice of the following:

  • that there has been a contravention, and the reasons for that determination;
  • the monetary administrative penalty, if any;
  • the administrative penalty of prohibition on lobbying, if any; and
  • your right to request a reconsideration.

The Registrar is required to deliver reports of non-compliance to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for the purpose of laying the report before the Legislative Assembly. After the report is delivered to the Speaker, the ORL will post the report to the ORL website.

What penalties can the Registrar impose if I am found to be non-compliant with the LTA?

Non-compliance with the LTA undermines the purpose of the Lobbyists Registry, which is to provide an accurate and transparent public record of lobbying in BC. If a lobbyist is found to be non-compliant, the Registrar (or their delegate) may issue an administrative monetary penalty and/or an administrative penalty of prohibition on lobbying.

What is the maximum administrative penalty that may be issued?

The maximum monetary administrative penalty is $25,000.

The maximum administrative penalty of prohibition on lobbying is two years.

For more information, please see the ORL’s Guide to Investigations.

Can I ask the Registrar to reconsider a decision?

Yes. Within 30 days of being notified of the Registrar’s determination that you have not complied with the LTA, you may submit a written request to have the Registrar reconsider the decision and/or the administrative penalty. You may also request a stay of a prohibition on lobbying. You must provide reasons for the request for reconsideration.

The Registrar will:

  • consider the grounds on which the reconsideration is requested;
  • confirm or rescind the decision;
  • confirm or vary the administrative penalty;
  • if the monetary administrative penalty amount is confirmed or varied, confirm or extend the date by which the administrative penalty must be paid;
  • if the administrative penalty of prohibition is confirmed or varied, specify the dates that the prohibition starts and ends; and
  • notify you in writing of the reasons for the decision to rescind, confirm or vary.

The Registrar will not approach reconsideration as a complete re-hearing of the original facts of the case. A respondent seeking to have a finding or administrative penalty altered on reconsideration bears the onus of satisfying the Registrar that the first determination contained a significant error of fact or law, or a breach of administrative fairness.

What are my options if I am prohibited from lobbying after the reconsideration is complete?

You may apply to the Supreme Court for relief from a prohibition on lobbying.

Are the Registrar’s Investigation Reports and Reconsideration Reports made public?

Yes. After an investigation in which the Registrar finds non-compliance, the Registrar must complete a report and deliver the report to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. After the report is delivered to the Speaker, the ORL will post the report to the ORL website.

Public Office Holders, Senior Public Office Holders, Former Public Office Holders

Are public office holders only elected officials, such as MLAs?

No. The LTA defines “public office holder” in a way that includes many individuals in addition to elected officials. Any of the following may be a public office holder:

  • a member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) including members of cabinet;
  • political staff of an MLA or a member of cabinet;
  • an officer or employee of the government of British Columbia;
  • a person who is appointed to any office or body by or with the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, other than a person appointed on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly;
  • a person who is appointed to any office or body by or with the approval of a minister of the government of British Columbia; and
  • an officer, director, or employee of any government corporation as defined in the Financial Administration Act.
Are “former public office holders” only elected officials, such as former ministers?

No. The LTA defines “former public office holder” in a way that includes many individuals in addition to elected officials. Any of the following may be a “former public office holder”:

  • a former member of the Executive Council (premier and cabinet ministers);
  • anyone, other than administrative support staff, formerly employed in a current or former office of a current or former member of the Executive Council;
  • a former parliamentary secretary;
  • anyone who formerly occupied a senior executive position in a ministry, whether by the title of deputy minister, chief executive officer, or another title;
  • anyone who formerly occupied the position of associate deputy minister, assistant deputy minister, or a position of comparable rank in a ministry; or
  • any individual who formerly occupied a prescribed position in a Provincial entity listed in the Appendix in the Lobbyists Transparency Regulations (“prescribed position” = most senior or next most senior ranking executive position of a Provincial entity; the chair or vice chair of the governing body of a Provincial entity).
Is every person who was formerly a public office holder therefore a “former public office holder” within the meaning of the Act?

No. Not all public office holders who have left their positions are considered to be “former public office holders”. See the item above regarding individuals considered to be “former public office holders”.

Are “senior public office holders” different from “public office holders”?

Yes. “Senior public office holders” are a subset of public office holders.

“Senior public office holders” include the following positions:

  • Premier and ministers (members of the Executive Council)
  • Staff of premier/staff of ministers (other than administrative support staff)
  • MLA
  • Staff of MLAs (other than administrative support staff)
  • Parliamentary secretary
  • Deputy minister, chief executive officer or a position of comparable rank in a ministry
  • Associate deputy minister, assistant deputy minister or a position of comparable rank in a ministry
  • Senior or next most senior ranking executive position of a Provincial entity
  • Chair or vice chair of, or the equivalent position in, the governing body of a Provincial entity
Who is a public office holder that is not a “senior public office holder”?

A public office holder who is not a “senior public office holder” is:

  • anyone in a ministry below the level of assistant/associate deputy minister;
  • anyone below the two most senior ranking executive positions in a Provincial entity; and
  • anyone below the level of chair or vice chair in the governing body of a Provincial entity.

This list may include an officer, director, or employee of any government corporation as defined in the Financial Administration Act.

Former Public Office Holder

The Registration Return form asks me if any of the lobbyists named in the return are “former public office holders”. Who is a “former public office holder”?

The term is limited to individuals who previously held public office in British Columbia. Those who previously held public office in another jurisdiction are not included.

“Former public office holder” means:

  • a former member of the Executive Council (premier and cabinet ministers);
  • anyone, other than administrative support staff, formerly employed in a current or former office of a current or former member of the Executive Council;
  • a former parliamentary secretary;
  • anyone who formerly occupied a senior executive position in a ministry, whether by the title of deputy minister, chief executive officer or another title;
  • anyone who formerly occupied the position of associate deputy minister, assistant deputy minister or a position of comparable rank in a ministry; or
  • any individual who formerly occupied a prescribed position in a Provincial entity listed in the Appendix in the Lobbyists Transparency Regulations (“prescribed position” = most senior or next most senior ranking executive position of a Provincial entity; the chair or vice chair of the governing body of a Provincial entity).
I know there is a two-year cooling off period for “former public office holders.” Do I have to declare my “former public office holder” role(s), even if I was a public office holder more than two years ago?

Yes, you are required to declare all of your “former public office holder” roles held at any point in the past.

What if I don’t know the exact dates of my previous roles?

You can search previous Orders in Council to help determine the exact dates you held a role at www.bclaws.ca or contact the Public Service Agency for information about your employment.

Registration Returns

How long do I have to file my Registration Return?

Both consultant lobbyists and organizations have 10 days to file a Registration Return after beginning to lobby.

How long do I have to make updates to my Registration Return?

Lobbyists are required to file a Monthly Return by the 15th of each month. This includes the requirement to update your Registration Return regarding any change that has occurred. For example, if you are lobbying on a new subject matter, or when your government funding changes, you must update your Registration Return.

Consultant lobbyists have 30 days to update the end date in their Registration Return after the termination of an undertaking.

The designated filer for an organization has 30 days to update their Registration Return when an in-house lobbyist ceases to be an in-house lobbyist.

How much detail do I need to provide in the Information about Subject Matter section of the Registration Return?

The LTA requires you to provide a brief but comprehensive description of your lobbying activities. Your details should be clear and concise, so the public can easily identify and understand your lobbying goals.

Keep in mind that the purpose of the Lobbyists Registry is to provide transparency with respect to who is lobbying the BC government about which subject matter(s). The language in this section must include “particulars to identify the subject matter”.

Answering these questions might help you determine what to enter in this section:

  • What result am I lobbying for?
  • What am I seeking from the BC government on behalf of my client or my organization?
  • What is the intended outcome I hope to achieve as a result of my communication with the BC government?
  • If you are not seeking a change or do not have a specific “ask” of the BC government, why are you communicating with the public office holder?
What will not be accepted in the Information about Subject Matter section?

Vague information will not be accepted. Registrations will be rejected if they provide minimal or non-specific information about lobbying activities such as “matters pertaining to energy policy” or “discussions around Bill 123.” These descriptions are insufficient. You must state the goal and the subject of the lobbying activities.

Why do the subject matter descriptions in my Registration Return have to be specific?

The purpose of the LTA is to balance free and open access to government with public transparency about who is attempting to influence government decisions.

The LTA requires the Registration Return to set out the “particulars” of the subject matter of the lobbying and the details of any relevant legislative proposal, bill, regulations, program, policy, directive, decision, grant, financial benefit, or contract that is or will be the subject of the lobbying.

Registration Returns that use vague, incomplete, subjective, or overly high-level/general language to describe the lobbying activity do not meet the requirements of the LTA or the object of public transparency and will not be accepted.

Monthly Return

What is a Monthly Return?

The LTA requires that designated filers (including consultant lobbyists) who have filed Registration Returns must also file Monthly Returns. The requirement to file a Monthly Return includes:

  • A Lobbying Activity Report that reports on your lobbying of “senior public office holders” for the previous month (e.g. phone calls, emails, letters, and meetings). You must file one Lobbying Activity Report for each lobbying activity.
  • The requirement to update your underlying Registration Return if anything has changed.

When you log into the Lobbyists Registry to file your Lobbying Activity Report and/or to update your Registration Return, you will be prompted to confirm that the following is up to date:

  • any political, sponsorship, or recall contributions made; and
  • any gifts or other benefits you gave or promised to give to any public office holders since your last Monthly Return.
When do I have to file a Monthly Return?

Both consultant lobbyists and organizations are required to file a Monthly Return by the 15th of every month, beginning the month after the Registration Return is first filed.

For example, if you file your Registration Return on May 10, you have until June 15 to file your first Monthly Return. If you first lobby on May 29, and file your Registration Return on June 5, you would have until July 15 to file your first Monthly Return.

Lobbying Activity Reports

What is a Lobbying Activity Report?

The Lobbying Activity Report is the part of your Monthly Return where you enter information about any communications with “senior public office holders” in the previous month.

How long do I have to register any meetings I have?

You must file a Monthly Return by the 15th of each month, and your Monthly Return must include all lobbying activities for the previous month. For example, if you have a meeting on May 16, you have until June 15 to enter that meeting (by filing a Lobbying Activity Report). If you have a meeting on June 2, you have until July 15 to enter that meeting (by filing a Lobbying Activity Report).

Do I have to register all of my lobbying activities by the 15th of each month?

You are required to declare your lobbying of “senior public office holders” as part of your requirement to file a Monthly Return. You must declare your lobbying activities for the current month by the 15th of the next month.

What constitutes a “lobbying activity”?

A lobbying activity may take place through any medium you use to communicate with a public office holder for the purpose of lobbying, including but not limited to:

  • phone calls
  • emails
  • text Messages
  • letters
  • in-person meetings
Who is considered to be a “senior public office holder”?

“Senior public office holders” are a subset of public office holders and are defined in the LTA as follows:

  • Premier and ministers (members of the Executive Council)
  • Staff of premier/staff of ministers (other than administrative support staff)
  • MLAs
  • Staff of MLAs (other than administrative support staff)
  • Parliamentary secretary
  • Deputy ministers, chief executive officers, or positions of comparable rank in a ministry
  • Associate deputy ministers, assistant deputy ministers, or positions of comparable rank in a ministry
  • Senior or next most senior ranking executive position of Provincial entities
  • Chairs or vice chairs of, or the equivalent positions in, the governing body of Provincial entities
Who is a public office holder but not a “senior public office holder”?

A public office holder who is not a “senior public office holder” is:

  • anyone in a ministry below the level of assistant/associate deputy minister;
  • anyone below the two most senior ranking executive positions in a Provincial entity; or
  • anyone below the level of chair or vice chair in the governing body of a Provincial entity.

This list may include an officer, director, or employee of any government corporation as defined in the Financial Administration Act.

If I undertake a lobbying activity with a public office holder (who is not a “senior public office holder”) what am I required to indicate as part of my requirement to file a Monthly Return?

If the public office holder you are lobbying is not a “senior public office holder”, you are not required to complete a Lobbying Activity Report. However, you must check to ensure that your Registration Return is up to date and contains sufficient information to cover the lobbying of any public office holders. This includes information on:

  • lobbying details
  • intended outcomes
  • subject matters
  • the name of the ministry or Provincial entity in which the public office holder is employed
What do I have to include in my Lobbying Activity Report?

Your Lobbying Activity Report must include:

  • the name and position title of the “senior public office holder(s)” who was the object of the lobbying activity
  • the name of the ministry or Provincial entity the “senior public office holder” works for
  • the date of the lobbying activity
  • for organizations only, the names of the in-lobbyist(s) who participated in the lobbying activity
  • details to identify the subject matter of the lobbying activity
If I have an email string conversation with a “senior public office holder,” how does this work for reporting? Do I have to enter a Lobbying Activity Report for each email I send?

For an email string, as long as the subject matter and lobbying details remain the same throughout the email chain, then you only need to enter one Lobbying Activity Report. You would use the date of the first email as the “Date” when completing your Lobbying Activity Report.

What if I send an email to a minister and copy the deputy minister? Is copying the deputy minister considered to be communicating? Do I have to file a Lobbying Activity Report for this?

Copying someone on an email is considered to be communicating with that person. So, if you send an email to a minister and copy the deputy minister and you are lobbying in that email, you need to file one Lobbying Activity Report – and list both the minister and the deputy minister.

Designated Filer

What does the term "designated filer" mean?

The term designated filer is defined in the LTA and means:

  • a consultant lobbyist, or
  • the most senior paid officer in the organization, such as the President, CEO, or Executive Director. The designated filer is the person legally responsible for the completion and accuracy of the Registration Return and Monthly Return. It is only in a situation where there is no senior officer who receives payment that the most senior in-house lobbyist may be named as the designated filer.
What if the designated filer is not doing any lobbying?

The most senior paid officer in the organization must be listed as the designated filer even if that person is not doing any lobbying.

We are a company based in the USA. Can we list the most senior officer in Canada as the designated filer?

You must list the most senior officer of the legal entity that is registering its lobbying activities.

If it is the Canadian subsidiary company that is registering its lobbying activities, then the designated filer should be the most senior paid officer of the Canadian subsidiary, not the international head of the parent company. If it is the parent company whose lobbying activities are being reported, the designated filer should be the most senior paid officer of the parent company.

Please note: if your organization is a national or international organization, the Registrar will no longer accept the most senior officer in BC as the designated filer. The designated filer must be the most senior officer of the legal entity that is registering its lobbying activities.

Consultant Lobbyists

I’m a consultant lobbyist – does the 50-hour threshold apply to me?

No. There is no minimum threshold for consultant lobbyists – if you do any lobbying, you must register in the Lobbyists Registry.

The 50-hour threshold only applies to organizations who have fewer than six employees and who lobby less than 50 hours in a 12-month period, unless the primary purpose of the organization is to represent the interests of its members or to promote or oppose issues.

I’m a consultant lobbyist. I understand the definition of “lobby” has changed with respect to arranging meetings. Can you explain what the new definition means for me?

Under the previous legislation, any meeting a consultant lobbyist arranged between a public office holder and any other individual met the test of lobbying and had to be declared in the Lobbyists Registry, even if the purpose of the meeting was not to influence any of the matters found in the definition of “lobby”.

Under the LTA, the above provision is amended. It is only meetings that are arranged between a public office holder and any other individual for the purpose of lobbying that meet the test of lobbying and needs to be declared in the Lobbyists Registry. Any meetings arranged where the purpose of the meeting is not to influence any of the matters found in the definition of “lobby” are not considered lobbying and do not need to be registered.

I am a consultant lobbyist. Do I still need to register if my lobbying activity on behalf of my client was unsuccessful or has stopped?

Yes. A consultant lobbyist must register within 10 days of beginning to lobby on behalf of a client, even if the lobbying turns out to be unsuccessful or ends quickly.

Organizations

What is the threshold for organizations to be required to register? Is it still 100 hours?

Under the LTA, the 100-hour threshold is gone. An organization that does any lobbying is required to register within 10 days of starting to lobby.

For more information, see the guidance document for Organizations.

What is the exception to the rule that an organization that is lobbying must register?

The exception to the rule that all organizations with in-house lobbyists must register in the BC Lobbyists Registry is very limited. The LTA provides that an individual is not an in-house lobbyist if they meet this three-part test:

  1. The individual is an employee, director, or officer of an organization that has fewer than six employees.

AND

  1. The lobbying by the individual — either alone or together with other individuals in the organization — on behalf of the organization or an affiliate of the organization, totals fewer than 50 hours in the preceding 12-month period.

AND

  1. The primary purpose of the organization is not to represent the interests of its members, or to promote or oppose issues.
What kind of organization qualifies for the exception?

An organization that is not member based or that does not have a primary purpose to promote or oppose issues may qualify for the exception if the organization has fewer than six employees and the lobbying activities add up to less than 50 hours in the preceding 12-month period.

Organizations such as unions and chambers of commerce are unlikely to qualify for the exception since their primary purpose is to represent the interests of their members or to promote or oppose issues. However, local chapters that are not engaging in lobbying activities themselves need not register.

Organizations that may meet the criteria for the exception should maintain a record of the amount of time spent on lobbying activities on an ongoing basis. That record can be used to determine whether those activities amount to 50 hours in the previous 12-month period, which could trigger the requirement to register. And it could also be used to demonstrate to the Registrar, if necessary, that the lobbying totals fewer than 50 hours in the preceding 12-month period.

How would I demonstrate to the Registrar that I qualify for the exception?

You must record time spent in activities that are directly related to carrying out a lobbying activity as accurately as possible and produce this record for the Registrar if asked.

How is the 50 hours calculated?

The calculation is not 50 hours per individual or per subject matter. It is based on the hours spent collectively by the organization. Note that 50 hours are equal to 6.25 eight-hour days.

I believe my organization qualifies for the exception. What activities are included in calculating the 50-hour threshold?

In addition to any meetings, all preparatory activities directly related to carrying out a lobbying activity must be included in the calculation of 50 hours, such as:

  • researching and writing reports, letters, submissions, and other correspondence to be given to a public office holder;
  • deciding which public office holders to target;
  • lobbying by letter, email, phone, or other media;
  • time spent negotiating contracts for services related to the lobbying strategy;
  • time spent by service providers on behalf of your organization to develop aspects of the lobbying strategy (for example, a graphic designer or writer);
  • hiring and training staff to lobby; and
  • monitoring and adjusting the strategy.
What activities are included in the 50-hour calculation but do not require registration in the Lobbyists Registry?

When counting an organization’s activities towards the 50-hour threshold, you may need to include time spent on preparatory activities performed by an employee, officer, or director who does not need to be registered in the Lobbyists Registry as in-house lobbyists. This is unusual but can happen. Examples include:

  • An employee who provides research that is used in a submission, but does not “communicate” with public office holders as required in the definition of “lobby”, would not need to be included in the registration.
What activities are not included in the 50-hour calculation?

Activities that predate the decision to lobby would likely not be included in the calculation.

What about volunteers? Do we count their hours and include their names in the Registration Return or Monthly Return?

No. Volunteers are not considered to be lobbying as they are not getting paid. You must be getting paid to be considered to be a lobbyist or to have your hours counted toward the threshold.

Who must be included in the Registration Return for an organization?

If your organization is required to register, the designated filer must list all in-house lobbyists for the organization in the Registration Return.

Who must an organization list in a Monthly Return?

An organization must list all the in-house lobbyists who participated in each lobbying activity. One Lobbying Activity Report is required for each lobbying activity.

Federal lobbying legislation states, organizations only have to register the lobbying activities of an employee if lobbying constitutes a “significant part of the duties” of that employee. This has been established at 20% or more of overall duties. Is that the case in BC as well?

No. In BC, there is no 20% threshold. Anyone who meets the definition of in-house lobbyist must be reported in the BC Lobbyists Registry unless the organization itself is not required to register (see the question above).

We are a union and had a meeting with a public office holder. We invited an employee from the shop floor to come and tell their story. Is this lobbying and would this individual need to be registered as a lobbyist?

The employee from the shop floor would not need to be registered as a lobbyist if they do nothing more than tell their story. Simply providing information is not considered lobbying.

Do employees of organizations who attend a lobbying meeting solely to communicate technical expertise to the public office holder need to be identified as in-house lobbyists in the organization’s lobbyist return?

No. Only paid employees, paid officers, or paid directors who lobby on behalf of the organization must be identified as in-house lobbyists.

Anyone in the organization who participates in communications with public office holders solely to provide technical expertise about projects or operations, or to address day-to-day logistical/technical issues about projects or operations, and who does not lobby, does not need to be identified in an organization’s return as an in-house lobbyist.

For example, if an engineer employed by an organization attends a meeting with a public office holder alongside the organization’s in-house lobbyists, but the engineer is attending the meeting for the sole purpose of providing technical expertise to the public office holder about the organization’s projects, and the engineer does not engage in lobbying communications, then the engineer does not need to be registered as an in-house lobbyist.

Note: An individual can be an in-house lobbyist regardless of their seniority or position title. The key question is whether the individual engages in any activities that fall into the definition of “lobby”.

In the case of a union with multiple locals, what constitutes the organization? Do we have to register each of our union’s locals in the Lobbyists Registry?

If each local has its own constitution, bylaws, and membership, then each local is considered a separate organization. The first step is to determine which organization is doing the lobbying. If only the staff of the regional organization are lobbying on behalf of all the locals, then only the regional organization would need to register. However, if paid representatives of some of the locals communicate directly with public office holders on behalf of their local, then each of those locals who are lobbying directly would also need to register.

Codes of Conduct

When does a lobbyist have to declare a code of conduct?

The LTA requires that lobbyists declare in their Registration Return whether they are subject to a code of conduct that is relevant to lobbying.

The LTA does not make it mandatory that lobbyists adhere to a relevant code of conduct, but if they do, they are required to declare it.

For more information, see Codes of Conduct.

How does the LTA define “relevant code of conduct”?

The LTA and Regulation define a “relevant code of conduct” as a code of conduct that:

  • governs the conduct of a lobbyist in relation to engaging in lobbying activities in British Columbia, whether or not it also governs other activities;
  • is publicly available; and
  • meets the “prescribed criteria” that there is an organization responsible for the administration of the code of conduct.
What has to be declared about a code of conduct?

Every lobbyist who files a Registration Return must declare whether there is an undertaking to comply with a relevant code of conduct in place.

And if a relevant code of conduct is in place, lobbyists must also declare:

  • the name of the code of conduct
  • where a copy of the code of conduct is publicly available; and
  • the name and business contact information of the organization that is responsible for the administration of the code of conduct (the “prescribed criteria”).
What if a lobbyist is subject to more than one code of conduct?

A lobbyist may be governed by several codes of conduct and must provide the required information for each code of conduct. Many professions and occupations have adopted a code of conduct. Examples of codes of conduct that may be relevant to lobbyists are:

  • Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct developed and administered under the Lobbying Act of Canada;
  • Government Relations Institute of Canada Code of Conduct; Public Affairs Association of Canada (PAAC) Statement of Principles;
  • Lawyers’ and other professional bodies’ codes of conduct;
  • Codes or statements of principle adopted by lobbyists’ firms and professional associations, and some corporate and union codes of conduct.;
Does the Registrar of lobbyists enforce the codes of conduct declared in the lobbyist’s Registration Return?

No. The Registrar does not administer or enforce any of the codes of conduct by which lobbyists may be governed. Lobbyists are required to declare and provide links in their Registration Return to the agencies or organizations that administer or enforce the codes of conduct governing that lobbyist.

For more information, see Codes of Conduct.

Provincial Entities

What are Provincial entities?

Provincial entities are provincial government public sector organizations and agencies that are included in the government reporting entity but fall outside the core operations of the provincial government. (Core government is generally understood to be comprised of government ministries, the Office of the Premier, the Legislative Assembly, and officers of the Legislative Assembly). Under the LTA, the term “Provincial entity” refers generally to provincial government agencies/organizations outside core government.

Provincial entities include:

  • Crown corporations
  • school districts
  • public sector post-secondary institutions, such as colleges and universities
  • health authorities

For more information, see Provincial Entities.

How is the term “Provincial entity” defined in the LTA?

The term "Provincial entity” is defined in the LTA as “a prescribed Provincial entity.” The Lobbyist Transparency Regulation sets out two groupings of Provincial entities as follows:

  • The Provincial entities listed in the Appendix to the Lobbyists Transparency Regulation, which are prescribed for the purposes of:
    • paragraph (c) (iii) of the definition of “former public office holder” in the LTA; and
    • determining whether an individual is a person employed by, or is an officer, or a director of a Provincial entity and is therefore not considered to be an in-house lobbyist when acting in their official capacity
  • For all other purposes, Provincial entities are defined as the Workers’ Compensation Board together with the entities that make up the government reporting entity within the meaning of the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act, except the government as reported through the consolidated revenue fund. Provincial entities that fall into this second group can be found at: gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/finances/public-accounts/financial-statements. This list is updated approximately once a year.
Is there a list of Provincial entities in the Lobbyists Registry?

Provincial entities that fall into the second group described in question above are listed in drop-down menus in the Registration Return and in the Monthly Return.

When would a lobbyist refer to the list of Provincial entities in the Appendix to the Lobbyists Transparency Regulation?

Refer to the Provincial entities listed in the Appendix to the Lobbyist Transparency Regulation to help determine the following:

  • whether an individual formerly occupied a prescribed position in a Provincial entity and thereby fits the definition of “former public office holder”;
  • whether an individual is a person employed by, or is an officer, or a director of a Provincial entity and is therefore not considered to be an in-house lobbyist when acting in their official capacity.
When would a lobbyist refer to the list of Provincial entities found in the drop-down menus in the Registration Return and in the Monthly Return?

For all purposes other than those identified in the questions directly above, lobbyists should refer to the drop-down menus in the Registration Return and in the Monthly Return.

What if I am wondering if an agency is a Provincial entity, but I cannot find it in the Appendix to the Lobbyists Transparency Regulation or in the drop-down lists in the Lobbyists Registry?

If a government agency is not currently included in the Appendix to the Lobbyists Transparency Regulation or the relevant drop-down sections of the Registration Return and/or Monthly Return, and you are not able to determine whether a particular agency is considered a Provincial entity, contact the Lobbyists Registry for assistance at info@bcorl.ca.

Government Funding

What does government funding include?

Government funding includes:

  • government grants
  • non-repayable contributions
  • any other non-repayable funding arrangements

For more information, see Government Funding.

What is not included in government funding?

Government funding does not include:

  • repayable contributions
  • loans & loan guarantees
  • tax credits
  • remission orders
  • payment pursuant to a contract for goods and/or services
What is the time frame for declaring government funding?

The declaration requirement applies to funding received or requested in the preceding 12 months.

How often does government funding have to be updated in the Registration Return?

The declaration must be updated by the 15th of the month after the month that new funding is received or after a new request for government funding is made. For example, funding received on May 12 must be reported in the Registry by June 15. Funding requested on May 24 must be reported in the Registry by June 15.

Does funding only have to be declared if it is received from the government of British Columbia, a BC government agency, or a BC Provincial entity?

The declaration requirement applies to any funding from Canadian or foreign governments including any municipal, provincial, territorial, regional, or state government. Funding from any government agency or Provincial entity must also be declared in the Registration Return.

Keep in mind that you only have to declare government funding received by the legal entity that is carrying on lobbying activities in BC. Examples:

  • If the client or organization carrying on lobbying activities is a corporation, lobbyists do not need to report government funding received or requested by subsidiaries or parent corporations.
  • If the client or organization carrying on lobbying activities is a local chapter of a regional, national, or international union, the local chapter does not need to declare funding received by the regional, national, or international organizations as long as the local chapter is a separate legal entity with its own constitution and bylaws.
Do I have to declare government funding for the previous 12 months, even though the LTA has not been in force for 12 months?

Yes, you are required to declare in your Registration Return all government funding received or requested in the 12 months preceding the registration.

What do I need to disclose in the Government Funding section?

Any funding received or requested by a client or an organization within the previous 12 months from any government, government agency, or Provincial entity in order to fund all or part of the client’s or the organization’s operations, activities, programs, or services must be disclosed.

What if a request for funding has been made, but no funding has been received?

A request for funding must be declared even if it has not been received or a decision has not been made regarding the request.

In the Government Funding section, am I only required to disclose funding requested or received from the government of British Columbia and agencies of the government of British Columbia?

The LTA requires disclosure of all “government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity” funding received and requested by the client or organization within the last 12 months. The terms “government” and “government agency” include any level of government, whether foreign, federal, provincial, or municipal, and are not limited to the government of British Columbia and its agencies.

I am preparing an application for funds on behalf of a client under a formal, established government or prescribed Provincial entity funding program. Am I lobbying? Is the client lobbying?

If you merely assist with the preparation of the formal funding application, and do not communicate with a public office holder to influence the decision about funding, then you are not lobbying. Asking questions or providing information in response to questions from public office holders, if there is no attempt to influence the decision about funding, would not be considered lobbying.

If the client submits an application for funds pursuant to a formal established government or Provincial entity program in accordance with the normal application process, and does not attempt to influence the decision about funding, then the client is not lobbying.

For example, if the funding program requires that a standard application form be submitted through a web portal, and the client simply completes the standard application form and submits it through the web portal, then the client is not lobbying. However, if the client were to separately contact a public office holder to discuss the merits of its funding application, in an attempt to influence the decision and achieve a successful application, then the client would be lobbying.

Keep in mind, the application for funding would need to be identified in the Registration Return for the client as “government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity” requested by the client in the last 12 months.

If my client or organization both requested AND received the same government funding within the last 12 months, do I need to disclose that funding in both the Government Funding “requested” section and the Government Funding “received” section?

Yes, you are required to disclose any funding requested and any funding received in the last 12 months, even if those amounts are the same.

My client or organization receives income tax credits. Do I need to disclose these credits or claims in the Government Funding section of my registration?

No. Receipt of tax incentives or credits, or other favorable tax treatment, does not constitute government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity funding for the purpose of a lobbyist’s Registration Return under the LTA.

In the Government Funding section, do I need to disclose payments received pursuant to a goods or services contract?

No. Payments received by a client or organization pursuant to a goods or services contract with a government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity (in which the client or organization provides goods or services to the government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity in exchange for payment) do not constitute government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity funding for the purpose of a lobbyist’s Registration Return.

In the Government Funding section, am I required to disclose government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity funding requested or received by subsidiaries or parent corporations of my client or organization?

No. The LTA only requires disclosure of government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity funding requested or received in the last 12 months by the client that is the subject of the consultant lobbyist’s Registration Return or the organization that is the subject of the organization’s Registration Return. It is not necessary to include the same information in respect of subsidiary corporations or parent corporations of the client or the organization.

My organization or client has had general, speculative discussions with public office holders about funding needs, but has not made any requests for funding where a decision was required or a specific dollar value was attached. Would these discussions quality as a “request” for funding in the Government Funding section of a lobbyist’s Registration Return?

No, if an organization simply had a speculative and general discussion about potential future funding needs, but did not make a specific request for funding where a decision was required on the part of the relevant government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity, then that discussion would not fall within the requirement to disclose any government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity funding requested in the last 12 months.

However, even if that type of discussion does not qualify as a “request” for funding, it might qualify as “lobbying.”

A public office holder purchased tickets to my organization’s event. Do the ticket purchase proceeds qualify as government funding?

No. The event ticket purchase proceeds are akin to a payment made in exchange for goods or services provided by your organization and therefore do not qualify as government funding received.

Payments received pursuant to a goods or services contract with a government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity (in which the client or organization provides goods or services in exchange for payment) do not constitute government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity funding for the purpose of a lobbyist return.

My organization received funding from a government to sponsor one of the organization’s events. Does that event sponsorship funding need to be disclosed in the organization’s lobbyist return?

Yes. Any funding received or requested by an organization within the last 12 months from a government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity in order to fund the organization’s operations, activities, programs, or services must be disclosed in the organization’s Registration Return. This includes funding which assists the organization in holding an event.

My client or organization receives “flow through” funding from government, government agencies, or prescribed Provincial entities that is completely passed on to members. Do I have to disclose this “flow through” funding amount in the Government Funding section?

No. You are not required to disclose in the Government Funding section any “flow through” funding which your organization or client directly and completely passes on to its members. You only need to identify funding received or requested that is used to support the organization’s or client’s operations, services, programs, and activities.

For example, government funding received by a medical association that the association immediately transfers to physicians does not need to be disclosed.

I work for a pharmaceutical company, and patients get reimbursed for our products under government-sponsored drug plans. Do I need to disclose the reimbursement amounts in the Government Funding section?

No. That reimbursement would not be considered government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity funding requested or received in the context of a lobbyist‘s Registration Return.

My client or organization received compensation or settlement payments from a government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity pursuant to the terms of a legal agreement. Do I need to disclose those payments in the Government Funding section?

No. Compensation or settlement payments made by a government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity to the client or organization, pursuant to the terms of a legal agreement resolving a dispute or an issue between the parties, do not constitute government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity funding for the purpose of a lobbyist’s Registration Return.