Related pages: [ Lobbyists' Code of Conduct ]
[ Managing your registrations ] [ FAQs ]
[ Exemptions from registration for organizations and persons ]
What is lobbying?
In general, lobbying consists of activities that can influence the opinions or actions of a public office holder. Under the definition of "lobby" in the Lobbying By-law, (PDF) lobbying is communicating with a public office holder on a range of subjects including decisions on by-laws, policies and programs, grants, purchasing, and applications for services, permits, licenses or other permission.
Lobbying typically involves communicating outside of a public forum such as a council meeting or a public hearing. It’s often—but not always—done by people who are paid or compensated in other ways for their efforts.
Lobbying is one way stakeholders can help public office holders make informed decisions. When transparent to the public and in accordance with the By-law, lobbying public office holders of the City of Toronto is a legitimate and potentially helpful activity.
Who is a lobbyist?
A person’s actions, more than any position or title, determine whether someone is a lobbyist.
Many professionals, company executives, sole proprietors and contractors may find themselves lobbying City staff, Members of City Council and other public office holders in the course of their business activities.
If you communicate with a public office holder of the City of Toronto about one of the listed subject matters, (PDF) the By-law likely considers you to be lobbying.
The By-law defines three types of lobbyist:
- A consultant lobbyist is someone who—for payment—lobbies on behalf of a client (another individual, company, partnership or organization). Additionally, if the consultant lobbyist arranges for a meeting between a public office holder and a third party, that is lobbying. (For the full definition, see the By-law.) (PDF)
- An in-house lobbyist is an employee, partner or sole proprietor who lobbies on behalf of their own employer, business or organization. (For the full definition, see the By-law.) (PDF)
- A voluntary unpaid lobbyist is someone who—without payment—lobbies, or causes someone else to lobby, on behalf of a business or organization. Additionally, if the voluntary unpaid lobbyist arranges a meeting between a public office holder and a third party, that is lobbying. (For the full definition, see the By-law.) (PDF)
All lobbyists must follow the provisions of the Lobbying By-law, including the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct.
Lobbyists must register (both themselves and the subject matter they intend to discuss) with the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar before communicating with a public office holder. After the communication has occurred, they must update their lobbying activities. For more information on registering, please see Before you register.
Who is a public office holder?
The term “public office holder” includes an elected official, such as the Mayor or a member of City Council, and anyone on their staff. It also includes…
- all employees of the City of Toronto
- members, staff of members and employees of local boards (restricted definition) and the Board of Health
- anyone appointed to an advisory body by City Council, one of its committees or a local board (restricted definition), if the body gives advice to Council, a committee or a local board.
For a full definition of “public office holder”, including a list of positions not considered public office holders (such as the Toronto Police Services Board and the Toronto Public Library), please see section 156 of the City of Toronto Act, 2006 (PDF) and the definition in The Lobbying By-law. (PDF)
Who has to register?
All lobbyists must have an approved lobbyist registration and a subject matter registration before communicating with a public office holder.
For more information on registering, please see Before you register.
Who doesn’t have to register?
Generally, not-for-profit community service organizations do not have to register. Other not-for-profit organizations may be exempt subject to certain exceptions. (PDF) (Please see our interpretation bulletin (PDF) for more information.)
When any not-for-profit organization hires a consultant lobbyist, however, the consultant lobbyist must register.
Representatives of labour groups acting on behalf of employees of the City or a local board (restricted definition) do not have to register when communicating about normal labour relations matters, such as compensation, grievances and workplace issues. They do have to register, however, when communicating about activities that aren’t related to normal labour relations matters.
People participating in a “grass-roots” lobbying campaign do not need to register themselves if their lobbying activities are a result of the campaign and occur during the approved exemption period. (PDF)The initiator of the campaign must register. Grass-roots lobbying (PDF)involves mobilizing citizens to contact public office holders directly, typically through mass letter writing and similar activities.
To see other groups that don’t have to register, please see this list of exemptions.