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Below are Interpretation and Advisory Bulletins published by the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar. These publications are also available in downloadable PDF format. If you need a special format to read these documents or any other documents referenced on our website, please contact us and we will do everything we can to provide documents in an accessible format.

When to Disclose a Subject Matter

Before lobbying takes place

A subject matter may be registered at any time, but must be approved before lobbying occurs.  Your registration is not complete and will not appear on the public registry site until a subject matter registration is approved.  Lobbyists must disclose and describe their subject matter, and provide other information about clients, employers, other beneficiaries, grass-roots communication and communication by a committee of an organization.  A subject matter registration number is assigned when the subject matter registration is approved.

After lobbying has occurred

Within three business days from the date of communication with a public office holder about a registered subject matter, registrants must return to the registry system to disclose the public office holder with whom they have communicated and the communication methods used.

How to Select a Subject Matter

Subject matter categories

Subject matter categories are pre-defined for registrants.  Consistency in registration is required for public disclosure and assists in searching the lobbyist registry.

Entering the subject matter in the registry system

Registrants must select their subject matter from the list provided in the drop-down menu on the input screen.  If you do not find an exact match, choose a category that most closely corresponds to your subject matter.  If you require assistance in determining how to enter your subject matter, contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registry (by telephone 416-338-5858 or by email lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca).

Entering information in the decisions and issues field of the registry system

In the decision and issues field, registrants must provide specific details to describe the subject matter. For example, descriptive details may include the name of the policy, program or service or number and title of the municipal code or bylaw.

Entering the end date in the registry system

The expected end date for communicating on a subject matter should be reasonable and reflect the planned lobbying period.  The end date should not exceed twelve months from the start date.  An extension may be requested if lobbying activity is to continue.  In the case of in-house lobbyists, the subject matter registration may remain in effect for the fiscal year of the business or organization, unless the lobbying activity is planned for a shorter duration.  Where a subject matter registration has been unchanged for some time, or where end dates have been reached, registrants must indicate whether the registration is still active or should be closed.

Combining subject matter categories

Where a registrant wants to lobby on two unrelated topics, these must be registered as separate subject matters.  Some issues may require more than one subject matter to provide a full description and two subject matter names can be combined in these situations, for example: “Transportation, Energy” or “Seniors, Budget”.

July 8, 2011

Generally, lobbyists, whether in-house, consultant or voluntary, must register and report their  lobbying activities when communicating with public office holders about applications for  services, grants, planning approvals, permits or other licences or permissions.  See the definition of “LOBBY”, s. 140-1, Subsection B.   

The Lobbying By-law provides some exemptions that may apply depending on the circumstances. 

Exempted Communications

The Lobbying By-law does not apply to communications by applicants, an interested party or their representatives with public office holders about an application for a service, grant, planning approval, permit or other licence or permission, in the following circumstances:

  1. If the communication is restricted to providing general information on an application, including a proposed or pending application, or to inquire about the application review process; or
  2. If the communication is with an employee of the City, a local board (restricted definition) or Board of Health for the purposes of filing an application or part of the administrative review process.

See s. 140-5F.

In addition, s. 140-5 provides other exemptions from the Lobbying By-law that may apply to communications about applications, services, grants, planning approvals, permits or other licenses or permissions, depending on the circumstances.  These include:

  • communications as part of a public process (s. 140-5A and B);
  • a simple request for information (s. 140-5C);
  • compliments or complaints about a service or program (s. 140-5D);
  • a direct response to a written request by a public office holder (s. 140-5H)

Exempted Organizations and Individuals

The Lobbying By-law specifies organizations and individuals to whom the chapter does not apply. See ss. 140-3 and 140-4.  Individuals and organizations to whom the chapter does not apply are not required to register or to report their lobbying activities.

The Lobbying By-law exempts certain not-for-profit organizations when acting in their official capacity. These organizations are not, however, exempted when they apply for grants, awards or other financial benefits outside of the established administrative review, approval or appeal processes. Not-for-profit community services sector organizations are also exempt when they apply for grants, awards or other financial benefits.  See s. 140-4.

In addition, s. 140-3 exempts from the Lobbying By-law listed persons when acting in their official capacity including persons in government and the public sector, named school boards, City corporations and the City’s public office holders.

This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice. For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

August 18, 2011

BIAs

A Business Improvement Area or “BIA” is a geographic area designated by City Council as an improvement area.  Within the improvement area, the owners of property in a business property tax class and business tenants of the property are the members of the BIA.  There is a Board of Management for each BIA and the Board members are called directors.

A BIA Board of Management is a local board of the City

Under the City of Toronto Act, 2006, a Board of Management of a BIA is a local board of the City (restricted definition).  As a result, the directors of the Board of Management of a BIA and BIA staff are public office holders for the purpose of the lobbyist registration requirements.

BIA Board directors and BIA staff communicating with the City

Board directors and staff when acting in their official capacity do not have to register when communicating with other City public office holders.  This includes communication with Council Members and their staff, employees of the City, and members and employees of other local boards (restricted definition).

General requirement to register to communicate with a BIA Board of Management

A person who communicates for payment (including a person who represents a business or is an owner of a business) with a BIA Board director or BIA staff on a subject matter defined in Municipal Code Chapter 140, Lobbying, must register before communicating:

  1. regarding a decision to be made by the board of the BIA; and/or
  2. regarding a decision to be made elsewhere with the City.

Such communications would only require registration if they are not occurring in public or part of a public process.   For example, a person communicating with the BIA Board at a duly called meeting of the Board would not be required to register.

If any person, including a member of the BIA, wishes to communicate with a BIA Board director or BIA staff about their own business interest outside of a duly called board meeting or public process, this communication regarding a decision or approval would require registration.

There are some exemptions to communications requiring registration.  Please check the website for general exemptions at: www.toronto.ca/lobbying.

Some communications are exempt from registration

Public meetings of the Board or its committees: A member of the BIA or their representative may participate in a Board or committee meeting.  Public disclosure of any communication at these open meetings is already achieved and the communications are exempt from the registration requirement.  (This includes written deputations sent to the Board for consideration at the meeting.)

General information: These communications deal with general information, for example, how and where to apply for a grant or other application (e.g., information required as part of the application, related factual information, or information about the review process). Because there is no advocacy or promotion of the merits of the permission or approval, registration is not necessary.

Response to a written request: When responding to a written request from a Board director or Board/City employee, as long as the communication does not go beyond the general information discussed above, no registration is necessary.

Technical information: Sometimes the communications require technical expertise or language interpretation. As long as there is no advocacy or debate about the merits of a particular application or proposal, registration is not required.

Administrative process: Any Board/City employee who has a role in processing a particular application may be contacted by the applicant during pre-application consultation, to file an application, or during the application review process.

TABIA

TABIA is not a local board under the City of Toronto Act, 2006 and TABIA board members and staff are not public office holders in their roles for TABIA.  No registration is required to communicate with TABIA.  TABIA is exempted in Schedule B of Municipal Code Chapter 140 and therefore TABIA is not required to register when acting in TABIA’s official capacity to communicate with public office holders such as City Councillors, BIA board members and City employees. This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

April 2, 2008

Communications as part of a public consultation process are exempt from registration.  There are several types of consultations that are generally initiated by employees or through a regular business process of the City.  The City and its local boards often seek input from businesses, professionals or the general public to assist in developing future recommendations.

Parties being consulted sometimes continue communication with a public office holder after a consultation has ended.  If the communication would advance their business interests, that communication would require registration.  For example, communications about products, services or positions on possible policy may advance a business interest.

Typical public consultations that do not require registration are as follows:

  • Council, Committee or Board meeting: Registration is not required to speak or make a submission at a public meeting of a Committee or Council of the City or a local board.
  • Public consultation: Registration is not required to speak or make a submission as part of a public consultation, neighbourhood meeting, site-neighbours meeting, or similar consultation process, on an application or other matter which is the subject of the consultation.
  • Response to a written request: Communication in direct response to a written request from a public office holder is exempt from registration provided it does not go beyond general information.  General information includes strictly factual information, information required as part of an application, or information about an administrative process.
  • Consultations that are limited to the interpretation or application of a by-law or the implementation of a policy, program, directive or guideline do not require registrations.

Not-for-profit community services organizations

Not-for-profit community services and some other not-for-profit organizations are exempt from registration when acting in their official capacity.  See the Interpretation Bulletin on Not-for-profit Organizations.     

This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

November 9, 2011

This interpretation bulletin provides guidance on the requirement in s. 140-40A and B that a lobbyist disclose their identity and purpose for lobbying.

Section 140-40 provides:

  1. Lobbyists communicating with a public office holder shall disclose the identity of the individual, corporation, organization or other person, or the partnership, on whose behalf they are acting, as well as the reasons for the communication.
  2. Lobbyists communicating with a public office holder on a duly registered and disclosed subject matter shall not use that opportunity to communicate on another subject matter, unless first having registered as required and disclosing identity and purpose.

In order to comply with s. 140-40, lobbyists must always disclose the identity and purpose of their communication at the outset.  The lobbyist must provide the following information to the public office holder before they lobby or at the beginning of the lobbying communication:

  1. The lobbyist’s identity.
  2. The identity of any individual or organization on whose behalf they are lobbying.
  3. The lobbyist’s registration number.
  4. The subject matter and subject matter registration number about which they intend to lobby the public office holder.
    • The registered subject matter must be described with sufficient specificity to enable the public office holder to know the precise matter about which they are being lobbied.  For example, when lobbying about a development application, the address should be given.  When lobbying about a by-law, the by-law should be identified.
    • Lobbyists may only lobby about a subject matter that has been registered and has been disclosed to the public office holder.

This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice. For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

May 13, 2015

Introduction

The purpose of this bulletin is to explain how Chapter 140 of the Toronto Municipal Code, Lobbying (the “Lobbying By-law”) applies to Employee or Labour Groups.  The Lobbying By-law by its treatment of them, in effect, divides Employee or Labour Groups into the following two categories:

  1. Employee or Labour Groups that DO NOT represent employees of the City or local boards of the City (restricted definition) (“E or LG”)

E or LG include, but are not limited to the following examples:  UNIFOR, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Teamsters (TM), United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), United Steelworkers of America (USWA).

  1. Employee or Labour Groups that DO represent employees of the City or local boards of the City (restricted definition) (“Schedule B, E or LG”)

Schedule B, E or LG include ATF Local 113, CUPE Local 79, COTAPSAI, CUPE Local 416, and TFA Local 3888.  Please refer to Schedule B of the Lobbying By-law, reproduced for convenience at the end of this bulletin, for the list of all 22 Schedule B, E or LG organizations.

The primary and defining difference between the two categories is the provision of a limited exemption that applies only to Schedule B, E or LG.

The application of the Lobbying By-law to these two categories is explained below.

Application of the Lobbying By-law to E or LG

Persons making representations on behalf of E or LG are, subject to the applicability of another exemption, required to register with the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar before lobbying public office holders.

E or LG are not-for-profit organizations.  Generally, under s. 140-4A of the Lobbying By‑law, not-for-profit organizations do not have to register if they lobby while acting in their official capacity.  However, in this instance they are subject to the carve out to that exception, articulated in s. 140-4B, which requires not-for-profits related to professions, labour groups, business, industry or a for-profit entity to register before lobbying.

Application of the Lobbying By-law to Schedule B, E or LG

Schedule B, E or LG are also not-for-profit organizations subject to the same analysis as above; however, the Lobbying By-law provides a further exemption for these organizations in s. 140-3C(3).

Under s. 140-3C(3), persons making representations on behalf of any of the Schedule B, E or LG are NOT required to register with the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar before lobbying public office holders if they are:

  1. representing employees of the City or a local board (restricted definition) in a manner permitted by a collective agreement or relationship protocol; or
  2. communicating about the negotiation and administration of collective agreements or a relationship protocol.

For example:

  • A staff representative of a Schedule B, E or LG meets with a public office holder with regards to the negotiation of a new contract.
  • A human resources specialist retained by a Schedule B, E or LG sends a letter to a public office holder regarding a wage harmonization process.
  • The president of a Schedule B, E or LG sends an email to a public office holder regarding the City’s attendance management policy.
  • Communications between members of a Joint health and Safety Committee.
  • Communications by the chief of stewards of a Schedule B, E or LG regarding an employee’s workload or problems with a co-worker.
  • Communications by a lawyer acting on behalf of a Schedule B, E or LG in furtherance to any matter that is the subject of a grievance, a mediation or an arbitration.

Please note that Schedule B, E or LG are required to register all other communications subject to the Lobbying By-law with the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar.

 

TORONTO MUNICIPAL CODE

CHAPTER 140, LOBBYING

SCHEDULE B

EXEMPTED EMPLOYEE AND LABOUR GROUPS

  • 140-3C(3)
  1. Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113.
  2. Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 1600 (Toronto Zoo).
  3. Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2 (electricians).
  4. Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2998 (AOCCs).
  5. Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2840 (Exhibition Place).
  6. Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 79.
  7. Carpenters and Allied Workers, Local 27 (United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America).
  8. City of Toronto Administrative, Professional, Supervisory Association, Incorporated (COTAPSAI).
  9. International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Local 58.
  10. International Association of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen, Local 2.
  11. International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, Local 721.
  12. International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers, Local 95.
  13. International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), Lodge 235 (machinists and millwrights).
  14. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 353.
  15. International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades, Local 1819 (glaziers).
  16. International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades, Local 557.
  17. Labourers International Union of North America (LIUNA), Local 506 (labourers and cleaners).
  18. Sheetmetal Workers’ International Association, Local 30.
  19. Toronto Civic Employees Union, Local 416.
  20. Toronto Police Association.
  21. Toronto Professional Fire Fighters Association, Local 3888.
  22. United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the USA and Canada, Local Union 46.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

 

May 29, 2018

Principles

The Office of the Lobbyist Registrar’s preferred enforcement approach is to educate lobbyists in advance regarding the requirements of the Lobbying By-law and to encourage lobbyist to seek proactive guidance on matters so that non-compliance is avoided.

Enforcement Tools

Where there are issues of non-compliance, the Lobbying By-law gives the Lobbyist Registrar the following range of enforcement powers:

  • The refusal to accept, and the ability to suspend, revoke, or remove a registration, when a registration fails to comply with the requirements of the by-law or where the lobbyist fails to provide required or requested information.
  • The power, on finding a breach of the Lobbying By-law, to impose conditions for registration, continued registration or renewal of registration.

The conditions include:

  • attend training and other educational courses;
  • respond to communications from the Lobbyist Registrar in a specified time period;
  • refrain from communication with a specific public office holder on specific topics; and
  • any other condition that the Lobbyist Registrar determines appropriate (for example, requiring an apology for breaching the by‑law or requiring a lobbyist to enter into a compliance plan).
  • The power, on finding a breach of the Lobbying By-law, to impose a temporary ban on lobbying for breaches of the Lobbying By-law based on an escalating scale, in accordance with the following scheme:
    • First breach: the lobbyist is banned from communicating with public office holders for one month;
    • Second breach: the lobbyist is banned from communicating with public office holders for three months; and
    • Third breach: the Lobbyist Registrar may ban the lobbyist from communicating with public office holders for a period of not more than two years.

Please note, multiple breaches arising out of the same inquiry may result in the Lobbyist Registrar imposing a ban at step two or three of the scale.

  • The Lobbyist Registrar can also prosecute breaches of the Lobbying By-law under the Provincial Offences Act (POA).  Every person convicted of an offence under the Lobbying By-law is liable on a first conviction to a fine of not more than $25,000 and on each subsequent conviction to a fine of not more than $100,000.

Enforcement Approach

The preferred enforcement approach is for the Lobbyist Registrar to progressively escalate the Registrar’s responses until a lobbyist complies.  While this is the preferred response, the Lobbyist Registrar may move to any level of enforcement response permitted by the Lobbying By-law and/or employ multiple enforcement tools, if the circumstances warrant it.

For example, there may be situations where the facts make it appropriate for the Lobbyist Registrar to by-pass the first two enforcement options and move straight to a temporary ban or a serial offender may be charged with a POA offence and temporarily banned from lobbying.

The escalating approach to non-compliance is depicted in Figure 1.

Escalating Approach to Non-Compliance graphicFigure 1: Escalating Approach to Non-Compliance

This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice. For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

Introduction

This bulletin discusses the interpretation of the lobbying By-law provision on the offering or providing of entertainment, meals, trips or favours by a lobbyist, or client of a lobbyist, or any parent, subsidiary, affiliate, officer or employee of any lobbyist: s. 140-42A.

Important note: This interpretation bulletin provides general information only and does not constitute legal advice. For more information, please consult the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar website at www.toronto.ca/lobbying.  To contact a Lobbyist Registry Advisor, email lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858.

Discussion

  • s.140-42A: Entertainment, gifts, meals, trips or favours of any kind

Subsection 140-42A provides:

  1. No lobbyist or client of a lobbyist, or any parent, subsidiary, affiliate, officer or employee of any lobbyist or client of a lobbyist shall directly or indirectly offer, provide or bestow entertainment, gifts, meals, trips or favours of any kind to a public office holder.

Offering or providing entertainment, gifts, meals, trips or favours of any kind as a form of lobbying is improper conduct on the part of a lobbyist or client of a lobbyist, or any parent, subsidiary, affiliate, officer or employee of any lobbyist or client of a lobbyist.  Doing so may be seen to create goodwill for current or future lobbying activities or to thank a public office holder for past support, and thus create an appearance of personal obligation and place the public office holder in a conflict of interest.

The purpose of s. 140-42A is to prevent these harmful results, which undermine the public confidence in the integrity of City government decision-making.  When lobbyists provide entertainment, gifts, meals, trips or favours to public office holders, this constitutes an improper benefit and a form of influence peddling, as explained by Madam Justice Denise E. Bellamy, Commissioner, in her report on the Toronto Computer Leasing Inquiry and Toronto External Contracts Inquiry (Toronto, 2005), Volume 2, Good Government at pages 82-83:

  1. No lobbyist should ever practise influence peddling. Councillors and staff should not risk compromising their positions by accepting any benefits of any kind from lobbyists.

      Influence peddling includes giving gifts, buying meals, entertaining, bestowing favours, trading secrets, or taking any other steps with a government official to attempt to create a relationship of personal obligation.  This is the heart of misconduct for a lobbyist. 

      Entertainment-based influence and relationship building have no place in lobbying the public sector. Entertainment- or favour-based relationship building does absolutely nothing to advance the public interest. It undermines public trust in the independence of public sector decision making, and therefore it has no legitimate role to play.

              The practice of giving benefits, favours, or entertainment to staff or councillors can sometimes be subtle and indirect. A lobbyist might invite a member of staff to a friendly dinner. Vendors’ associations and commercial interests of all kinds organize “information nights” or other forms of social contact with elected officials and staff involving meals or entertainment paid for by vendors. Such an event might be a boat cruise, the opening night of a hot new play or musical in town, a sports event, a concert, or a golf tournament. Elected officials and staff may be sorely tempted to accept such treats at a lobbyist’s or commercial supplier’s expense. But this would be wrong, and staff and councillors alike should decline these invitations.

              Commercial suppliers and lobbyists who spend money on entertainment events for public servants expect an eventual return on their investment. They hope for influence. This practice, however, amounts to using favours or benefits to acquire influence. It is an inappropriate lobbying practice in the public sector, and as such should neither be offered by lobbyists or vendors nor be accepted, if offered, by councillors or staff.

              The responsibility to stop these practices lies primarily with government officials, both councillors and staff. They should decline these types of invitations, explain why, and put forward policies that discourage lobbyists and vendors from offering favours or benefits as part of their public sector strategies.  Lobbyists and businesses, for their part, should respect and abide by these imperatives. They should devise alternative ways of promoting their products or ideas that focus on the merits of the product or the idea itself, rather than on lavish dinners or professional sports events.

Examples of gifts, benefits or favours that are prohibited under this section include, but are not limited to:

In particular situations, for advice on whether entertainment, a gift, a meal, trip or favour is prohibited by the Lobbying By-law, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar.

Related Interpretation Bulletins & Reports to Council

Interpretation Bulletins

Interpretation Bulletin, Improper Influence: Avoiding Impropriety, Conflict of Interest and Improper Benefits

(March 27,2017)

Interpretation Bulletin, Lobbying and Municipal Elections at the City of Toronto (March 21, 2018).

Reports to Council

Report on an Inquiry into Contributions by Lobbyists to a Fundraiser for a Member of Council

(adopted by City Council on July 7, 8 and 9, 2015)

Report on an Inquiry into Placing Members of Council in an Apparent Conflict of Interest

(adopted by City Council on March 31, April 1 and 2, 2015)

Report to Council on the Provision of Gifts by a Consultant Lobbyist Firm

(adopted by City Council on April 1, 2 and 3, 2014 – Appendix A to the Annual Report of the Lobbyist Registrar for the Year 2013)

Report on an Inquiry into a Fundraising Event

(adopted by City Council on February 19 and 20, 2014)

Important note: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

May 30, 2018

Certain types of communication are exempt from the Lobbying By-law (Chapter 140 of the Toronto Municipal Code).  This interpretation bulletin discusses the communications that are exempt from the Lobbying By-law under ss. 140-5 and 140-6.

1. A communication that occurs as a part of meeting of Council, a local board, the Board of Health or their committees.  s. 140-5A

A communication that is submitted in writing to a meeting administrator, such as the City Clerk, is exempt.  The communication could be filed before or during the meeting and includes communication received after the meeting that will be processed for consideration at another meeting.  The reason for this exemption is that such communications are disclosed as part of the public record.

For the same reason, oral communication at a meeting of Council, a board or committee (usually referred to as a “deputation”) is also exempt.

2.  A communication submitted or occurring during a public process.  s. 140-5B

This exemption includes oral and written communications submitted at a public meeting, hearing, consultation, presentation, media event or open house held or sponsored by the City.  The exemption also applies when the event is part of an administrative review process with respect to an application or approval.  Private conversations at such events are not exempt.

3.  A communication that is restricted to a request for information.  s. 140-5C

A communication by a lobbyist to a public office holder is exempt if it is limited to a request for information.  The purpose of this exemption is to enable members of the public to obtain information they need from the City, without registration in the lobbyist registry.  For example, a simple request by a member of the public for information about a City program, garbage collection schedule or the date that Council meets is exempt.

The request for information must be the sole subject of the communication in order to be exempt.  If the communication touches on any other subject, this exemption does not apply.  In order to determine whether a communication is exempt, the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar (OLR) may request further information, such as a copy of the letter or email that was sent, or notes of the meeting or telephone conversation that was held.

 4.  A communication that is restricted to compliments or complaints about a service or program.  s. 140-5D

The purpose of this exemption is to enable members of the public to compliment or to complain to City government about the services and programs it provides.  So, for example, a member of the public who wishes to compliment or to complain to the City on the collection of garbage or recreation programs is not required to register in the lobbyist registry to do so.  The compliment or complaint must be the sole subject of the communication.  If the communication touches on any other subject, this exemption does not apply.  In order to determine whether a communication is exempt, the OLR may request further information, such as a copy of the letter or email that was sent, or notes of the meeting or telephone conversation that was held.

5.  A communication on behalf of an individual, business or organization about the enforcement, interpretation or application of a by-law; the implementation or administration of a policy or guideline; a personal matter with no special benefit.  s. 140-5E

These exemptions apply to communications with a public office holder who is the person applying the by-law, policy or guideline to the individual, business or organization.  The communication must be solely to the public office holders tasked with such matters.  Any communications to public office holders other than to the ones charged with implementing or enforcing the policy, guideline or by-law must be registered.

6.  A communication with City staff, a local board (restricted definition) or Board of Health, or with a member of Council, to provide general information or to inquire about the application review process regarding an application for a service, grant, planning approval, permit or other licence or permission.  s. 140-5F(1)

This exemption applies when applicants, interested parties or their representatives provide general information about an application or when they ask for information about the application review process regarding an application for a service, grant, planning approval, permit or other licence or permission.  For example, a developer may wish to meet with a councillor and City staff to inform them about their intent to develop a site in the councillor’s ward and to inquire about the application review process for obtaining planning approval.  In doing so, the developer may provide general information about the proposed project for which an application may be made.

7.  A communication with City staff, a local board (restricted definition) or Board of Health for the purposes of filing an application or as part of the administrative review process for an application.  s. 140-5F(2)

This exemption applies when applicants, interested parties or their representatives communicate with City staff, a local board (restricted definition) or the Board of Health for the purposes of filing an application or as part of the administrative review process for an application.

For example, an applicant may communicate with City staff who have a role in processing a particular planning application (including planners, support staff and managers up to and including the Chief Planner) for pre-application consultations, to file an application or as part of the application review process.  The applicant may also contact employees from other City divisions or local boards who have a role in providing input for the review of the application, such as the Toronto Building, Transportation Services or Toronto Water Divisions.  However, communications with members of Council and their staff are not exempt, other than to provide general information or to inquire about the application review process (see 6. above).  For more information, please read OLR Interpretation Bulletins: Applications for Approvals and Licences and Planning & Development Applications.

8.  Submitting a bid or proposal as part of the procurement process.  s. 140-5G

This exemption applies when a bidder submits a bid or proposal as part of the procurement process or communicates with designated employees as permitted in the procurement policies and documents of the City, local board (restricted definition) or Board of Health.  The Lobbying By-law prohibits lobbying about a procurement process except in accordance with the applicable procurement policies and documents.  For example, the City’s Procurement Processes Policy, section 5, limits communications about a competitive procurement process from the date a procurement is issued until its award.  During that period, only communication with an official point of contact named in the call is permitted.  For further information, see the OLR Interpretation Bulletin, Lobbying and Procurements.

9.  A communication to a public office holder by an individual on behalf of an individual, business or organization in direct response to a written request from the public office holder.  s. 140-5H

A communication in direct response to a written request from a public office holder is exempt from registration.  The purpose of this exemption is to enable members of the public to respond to a public office holder’s request for information, without being required to register in the lobbyist registry.  For example, a response to a letter or an email from City staff asking for information about the individual’s participation in a City program would be exempt.  The response must be limited to providing the information that is requested by the public office holder, and the response must be to the public office holder who requests it, in order to be exempt.  The OLR may request further information to determine if the exemption applies, such as copies of the letters or emails exchanged between the individual and the public office holder.

10.  A member service or member communication by an organization or a not-for-profit corporation to a public office holder who is a member of that organization.  s. 140-5I

If the public office holder is a member of an organization then the communications by the organization to the public office holder are exempt.  These communications should relate to the purpose and ordinary business of the organizations.

11.  Casual communication at a public gathering.  s. 140-5J

Casual communication at a public gathering, festival, civic or charitable event that does not materially advance a lobbying matter is exempt.

12.  Ward constituent communications.  s. 140-6A, B, and C

A communication to a member of Council by a constituent of the member of Council, or an individual on behalf of a constituent of the member of Council on a general neighborhood or public policy issue is exempt, unless it is for the special benefit of the individual, business or organization.  If the constituent engages a consultant lobbyist to act on his/her behalf, the consultant lobbyist must register and report their communications.

Important note: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

November 9, 2015

Most organizations are required to register before they lobby about a grant application. Not-for-profit community services organizations are exempt from this requirement.

Communicating with assigned grants review staff does not require registration

The City has established application processes specific to its different grants programs.  In general, staff consults with applicants, provides direction and assistance, reviews the applications, and makes recommendations to Council concerning grants and appeals.

The lobbyist registration requirement does not apply to grant and funding applicants when they communicate with staff who have a role in the administration of the application review process.

Communicating with other public office holders does require registration

However, if the applicant communicates with Councillors, or staff who do not have a role in the administration of the application review process, in order to encourage support of their application, it is lobbying for the purposes of the lobbyist registration requirement.  The applicant must be registered.

In the course of making a grant application, the appropriate people for applicants to speak to should be made known to them in order for the application to be filed and processed.  In other words, the staff that are in the process of handling the application should be evident.

Relationships with Councillors

Those not-for-profit organizations that are applying for grants, like all city constituents, are free to establish a relationship with their City of Toronto Councillors, particularly those in their Ward.  This typically involves meetings to explain the mandate and services of the organization, inviting Councillors to visit their establishment or participate in events they hold or participate in as an organization.  None of these activities are lobbying that requires registration and should be encouraged as part of engagement with the City government.  It is given that the grant application will not be discussed at such events.  The Municipal Code Chapter 140 is clear that lobbying is not to occur at special events; however, if the lobbying is registered and both parties agree in advance, then such discussions may occur at any venue.

Should an event be staged for the purpose of lobbying and it includes any gratuitous offerings to City Officials, then this must be evaluated both in relationship to the Lobbyist Registrar, the Councillors Code of Conduct, the employee Conflict of Interest Policy, and the City’s procurement protocols.

Definitions for the Purposes of Grant Applicants:

Lobbyist – a person who for payment of fee or salary or a volunteer communicates with a public office holder for the purpose of lobbying regarding a grant application.

Lobby – to communicate with a public office holder about matters of interest or benefit to the lobbyist and/or whom they represent.  That would be either their organization or business or client.  The communication would be regarding a decision, award or approval to be recommended or made by a public office holder.

Communication – you do not have to register if you are communicating on a grant application in the following circumstances:

  • Communicating with public office holders in situations that are part of the public record, such as communication during a meeting of Council or a local board, a City-sponsored public meeting, hearing, open house, consultation or media event related to an application.
  • Requesting information, materials, instructions, direction, etc. regarding the grant process.
  • Providing compliments, making complaints or providing feedback on services or programs related to the grant application process.
  • Responding directly to a written request from a public office holder.
  • Communicating about the application of the grant requirements.
  • Making applications for a service, grant, or taking part in the formal application review or approval process.
  • Communicating about a personal matter unless it is for the special benefit of the individual, business or organization.

Important note: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

December 4, 2008

This bulletin is intended to assist lobbyists in conducting grass-roots campaigns.

What is a Grass-roots Campaign?

Grass-roots lobbying campaigns consist of appeals by a lobbyist to members of the public (or to members of an organization or special interest group) through the mass media or by direct communication.  The appeals seek to persuade members of the public to communicate directly with a public office holder in an attempt to place pressure on the public office holder to endorse a particular opinion or issue advocated by the lobbyist.

A grass-roots campaign is a form of indirect communication between a lobbyist and a public office holder, through the agency of those who respond to the campaign.

Approval of the Campaign is Necessary

Section 140-10.1 of the Lobbying By-law requires lobbyists to obtain the approval of the Lobbyist Registrar for the grass-roots campaign before launching the appeal to the public.  The Registrar may approve the campaign and extensions of it for up to two weeks.  Before approving a campaign or an extension of it, the Registrar may require additional information on the proposed grass-roots communication as necessary to provide for additional transparency in the use of this communication technique.

Communications with Public Office Holder by Members of the Public

Members of the public or target group of the campaign who communicate with a public office holder during the campaign or extension of it in response to the campaign do not need to register.

Disclosure of Identity is also Necessary

Section 140-40A of the Lobbying By-law requires lobbyists communicating with a public office holder to disclose the identity of the individuals and organizations on whose behalf they are acting, as well as the reasons for the communication.

Best Practices

The appeal to the public or to members of a group should disclose the identity of the lobbyist as well as those individuals or groups on whose behalf the lobbyist is acting, and the reasons for the grass-roots campaign.

Form letters and other communications that are prepared by the lobbyist and distributed to the public so as to be sent to the public office holder(s) as part of a grass-roots campaign should contain the following information:

  • Identify who prepared the communication
  • Identify on whose behalf the communication is being sent
  • Identify that the communication is part of an approved grass-roots campaign and the dates for which the campaign is approved
  • Identify  the subject matter and lobbyist registrations for which the campaign is approved
  • Identify the purpose of the campaign

This information will ensure that public office holders receiving the communication know that the communication is part of a legitimate grass-roots campaign.  This will also assist in transparency and is consistent with lobbyists’ obligations under s. 140-40, to disclose the identity of those on whose behalf they are acting and the purpose of the campaign.

Important note: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

March 7, 2013

Introduction

This Interpretation Bulletin sets out procedures for imposing conditions for registration, continued registration or renewal of a registration.

If the Lobbyist Registrar (the Registrar) finds that the requirements of the Lobbying By‑law have not been met, the Registrar may impose conditions for registration, continued registration or renewal of a registration.  Section 140-36.2 of the Lobbying By‑law (Chapter 140, Toronto Municipal Code), states:

A.  The Lobbyist Registrar may impose conditions for registration, continued registration or a renewal of registration of a lobbyist if the Lobbyist Registrar finds that the requirements of this by-law have not been met.

B.  Without limiting the generality of s. 140-36.2A, conditions for registration, continued registration or a renewal of registration of a lobbyist may include:

(1)    a requirement to attend training and other educational courses;

(2)    a requirement to respond to communications from the Lobbyist Registrar in a specified time period;

(3)    a requirement to refrain from communication with specified public office holders on specified topics; or

(4)    any other condition that the Lobbyist Registrar determines appropriate.

What conditions may be placed on a registration?

Generally, the Lobbyist Registrar may impose conditions that are appropriate to ensure compliance with the Lobbying By-law, after finding that a breach has occurred.  Conditions may include but are not limited to a requirement that the lobbyist:

(1)    Attend training and other educational courses;

(2)    Respond to communications from the Lobbyist Registrar in a specified time period;

(3)    Refrain from communication with specified public office holders on specified topics;

(4)    Register and file reports of communication in a timely fashion;

(5)    Develop and implement a compliance plan to the satisfaction of the Registrar; and

(6)     Comply with advice given by the Registrar.

Other conditions deemed appropriate by the Registrar may be imposed.

Procedures for Placing Conditions for Registration, Continued Registration or Renewal of a Registration

If, after a review of a registration or an inquiry into an alleged breach of the Lobbying By‑law, the Registrar finds that the requirements of the Lobbying By-law have not been met and that conditions should be imposed, the Registrar shall inform the lobbyist in writing of:

(1)    The Registrar’s proposed findings;

(2)    The conditions that the Registrar proposes to impose for the registration, continued registration or renewal of a registration;

(3)    Reasons for the proposed findings and conditions; and

(4)     That the lobbyist may provide a written response within 15 days of receipt of this communication.

The Registrar shall have regard to any response received from the lobbyist before imposing a condition or conditions for registration, continued registration or renewal of a registration.

The Registrar shall inform the lobbyist of a decision to impose a condition or conditions for registration, continued registration, or renewal of a registration and the reasons for the condition or conditions.

The condition or conditions for registration, continued registration or renewal of registration shall be noted in the online public lobbyist registry and on the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar’s public website.

Important note: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

May 13, 2016

Introduction

This bulletin sets out the procedures for temporarily banning a lobbyist from communicating with public office holders, and the circumstances in which a temporary ban may be imposed by the Lobbyist Registrar under s. 140-36.1 of the Lobbying By‑law.  Section 140-36.1 states:

A.  The Lobbyist Registrar may impose a temporary ban on communication in accordance with the following scheme if the Lobbyist Registrar finds that the requirements of this by-law have not been met:

(1)  First breach: the lobbyist is banned from communicating with public office holders for one month;

(2)  Second breach: the lobbyist is banned from communicating with public office holders for three months; and

(3)  Third breach: the Lobbyist Registrar may ban the lobbyist from communicating with public office holders for a period of not more than two years.

B.  In determining whether to impose a temporary ban on communication under subsection A and in determining the duration of a temporary ban on communication under subsection A(3) the Lobbyist Registrar shall have regard to whether the temporary ban on communication will promote compliance with this chapter.

C.  If the Lobbyist Registrar believes that a person has not complied with a provision of this chapter, the Lobbyist Registrar shall inform the person:

(1)  of the alleged contravention;

(2)  of the reason why the Lobbyist Registrar believes there has been a contravention; and

(3)  that he or she may provide a written response within 15 days of receipt of this communication.

D.  The Lobbyist Registrar shall have regard to any response provided in s. 140-36.1C(3) prior to imposing a temporary ban on communication in s. 140-36.1A.

E.  If the Lobbyist Registrar decides to impose a temporary ban on communication, the Lobbyist Registrar shall inform the person:

(1)  of the suspension;

(2)  of the reason for the suspension; and

(3)  that he or she may request a reconsideration within 30 days of receipt of the communication.

F.  The Lobbyist Registrar shall take no further action with respect of the suspension, including providing notification under s. 140-36.1H, and the suspension shall not take effect until the later of the following:

(1)  The expiration of the period of time noted in section E(3), where no request for reconsideration has been received;

(2)  Where a request for reconsideration has been received, the date the Lobbyist Registrar makes a decision on the reconsideration; and

(3)  If the Lobbyist Registrar is made aware of the initiation of proceedings to challenge the decision by the person, the date when the challenge has been withdrawn, dismissed, or otherwise resolved.

G. In addition to s. 140-36.1B, C and D, the Lobbyist Registrar shall establish any processes that the Lobbyist Registrar considers necessary to facilitate adequate notice and consideration of any submissions.

H.  If the Lobbyist Registrar imposes a temporary ban on communication, the Lobbyist Registrar shall post notice of the temporary ban on the Lobbyist Registrar’s website and notify:

(1)  the City Manager;

(2)  the City Clerk;

(3)  the City Solicitor;

(4)  Members of Council; and

(5)  any public office holder who the Lobbyist Registrar determines appropriate to notify.

When may the Lobbyist Registrar temporarily ban a lobbyist from communicating with public office holders?

The Lobbyist Registrar may temporarily ban a lobbyist from communicating with public office holders after finding that the lobbyist has breached the Lobbying By-law.

Will a temporary ban on lobbying result from every breach?

Not every breach will result in a temporary ban on lobbying.  Such bans are intended to ensure compliance with the Lobbying By‑law, based on an escalating scale of administrative sanctions.  The Lobbyist Registrar may or may not impose a ban after a breach.  The Lobbyist Registrar will consider whether a ban is necessary and appropriate in the circumstances to ensure compliance with the Lobbying By-law.  These are some of the circumstances indicating that a temporary ban may be an appropriate and necessary measure to ensure compliance:

  • The lobbyist has breached the Lobbying By-law on multiple occasions;
  • The lobbyist has failed to comply with previously given advice, warnings, or the imposition of conditions on a registration; or
  • The breach is egregious.

How long will the ban last?

The length of the ban depends on the number of breaches that have been found:

(1)     First breach: the lobbyist is banned from communicating with public office holders for one month;

(2)     Second breach: the lobbyist is banned from communicating with public office holders for three months; and

(3)     Third breach: the Lobbyist Registrar may ban the lobbyist from communicating with public office holders for a period of not more than two years.

Procedures for Imposing a Temporary Ban on Lobbying

The procedures for imposing a ban are set out in s.140-36.1 (see above).  If, after a review of a registration or an inquiry, the Lobbyist Registrar believes that a person has breached the Lobbying By-law and that the circumstances warrant the imposition of a temporary ban on communication, the Lobbyist Registrar shall inform the lobbyist in writing of:

(1)     The alleged contravention;

(2)     The reasons why the Lobbyist Registrar believes there has been a contravention; and

(3)     That the person may provide a written response within 15 days of receipt of this communication.

The Lobbyist Registrar shall have regard to any response received from the person before imposing a temporary ban on communication.

If, after receiving a written response or the expiry of 15 days, the Lobbyist Registrar decides to impose a temporary ban on communication, the Lobbyist Registrar shall inform the person of the following:

(1)     The suspension;

(2)     The reasons for the suspension; and

(3)     That the person may request a reconsideration within 30 days of receipt of the communication.

The Lobbyist Registrar shall take no further action to impose the suspension, and shall not notify anyone else of the proposed suspension or post notice of it on the Lobbyist Registrar’s website, until the later of the following:

(1)     The 30-day period for reconsideration has expired and no request for reconsideration has been received within that period;

(2)     A request for reconsideration has been received and the Lobbyist Registrar makes a decision on the reconsideration; and

(3)     The Lobbyist Registrar has been made aware of the initiation of proceedings to challenge the decision by the person, and the challenge has been withdrawn, dismissed or otherwise resolved.

If the Lobbyist Registrar imposes a temporary ban on communication against a person, the Lobbyist Registrar shall post notice of the temporary ban on the Lobbyist Registrar’s website and notify:

(1)     The City Manager;

(2)     The City Clerk;

(3)     The City Solicitor;

(4)     Members of Council; and

(5)     Any public office holder who the Lobbyist Registrar determines appropriate to notify.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor..

May 13, 2016

Introduction

This interpretation bulletin discusses the Lobbying By-law (By-law) provisions that deal with improper influence.

Improper Influence

Section 140-45 seeks to prevent lobbyists from improperly influencing public office holders.  It addresses three forms of improper influence:

  • The deed and appearance of impropriety;
  • Placing public office holders in a conflict of interest or in breach of the public office holders’ codes of conduct; and
  • Bestowing an improper benefit or exerting improper influence.

All three forms of improper influence may be founded in the same action, for example, a gift from a lobbyist to a public office holder.

The Deed and Appearance of Impropriety

Subsection 140-45A provides:

A.   Lobbyists shall avoid both the deed and the appearance of impropriety.

Examples of what must be avoided by lobbyists include offering or bestowing gifts, benefits or favours of any kind to a public office holder.  Other sections of the By-law, if breached, may also create an appearance of impropriety.  For example, lobbying at a charitable or other public event is prohibited (section 140-42C) and may create an appearance of impropriety based on the appearance of a lobbyist’s exclusive or privileged access to the public office holder.

Placing a Public Office Holder in a Conflict of Interest or in Breach of a Standard of Behaviour

Subsection 140-45B provides:

B.   Lobbyists shall not place public office holders in a conflict of interest or in breach of the public office holders’ codes of conduct or standards of behaviour.

The Lobbyist Registrar uses the common law definition of “conflict of interest” (see Joint Interpretation Bulletin, Lobbying and Municipal Elections at the City of Toronto) which provides as follows:

6.   A conflict of interest is any interest, relationship, association or activity that may be incompatible with the duties of the public office holder, including the duty to act in the public interest, whether real or apparent.

7.   Lobbyists should take all necessary measures to avoid creating any actual or apparent incompatibility between the public office holder’s private interests or obligations and his or her public duties, including the duty to act in the public interest.  Certain activities may result in the perception that a public office holder’s ability to serve the public interest has been compromised by a personal interest or obligation.  If so, a conflict of interest has been created.

A conflict of interest:

  • Is present when there is a reasonable apprehension that reasonable persons could have that a conflict of interest exists;
  • Does not require:
    • Proof of actual influence by the personal interest upon the professional duty;
    • Proof of actual receipt of a benefit; and
    • Actual knowledge of the conflict of interest or knowledge of all the facts.

A conflict of interest may arise in a variety of situations including but not limited to:

  • A family relationship, such as that with a spouse or an immediate family member;[1]
  • A personal relationship, such as a close personal friendship;
  • A professional or work relationship;[2]
  • A business relationship, such as a partnership or contractual relationship;[3]
  • A private interest, such as ownership of property or investment in a business;
  • A personal or financial obligation, such as a debt or mortgage;
  • Entertainment, gifts, meals, trips or favours of any kind: see Interpretation Bulletin, Entertainment, Gifts, Meals, Trips or Favours.
  • Campaign activities and fundraising: see Joint Interpretation Bulletin, Lobbying and Municipal Elections at the City of Toronto.

Placing a public office holder in breach of his or her codes of conduct is also a form of improper influence.  For example, under the Code of Conduct for Members of Council a councillor may not accept a gift from a lobbyist, any lobbyist providing a gift to a councillor has placed the member in breach of their code of conduct.  See Code of Conduct for Members of CouncilCode of Conduct for Local Boards and the Toronto Public Service By-law.

Improper Benefit; Improper Influence

Subsection 140-45C provides:

C.  Lobbyists shall not propose or undertake any action that would bestow an improper benefit or constitute an improper influence on a public office holder.

When a lobbyist offers or provides entertainment, a gift, meal, trip, favour of any kind to or for the benefit of a public office holder, the lobbyist has bestowed an improper benefit on the public office holder.

Since a public office holder has a public duty, a lobbyist can only place a public office holder in a conflict of interest by creating a competing private interest.  That private interest, is the improper influence.

Lobbyists should not lobby public office holders when a real or perceived conflict of interest exists.  For advice on whether a relationship, situation or activity may give rise to a conflict of interest, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar.

RELATED INTERPRETATION BULLETINS AND REPORTS TO COUNCIL

Interpretation Bulletins

Interpretation Bulletin, Entertainment, Gifts, Meals, Trips or Favours

Joint Interpretation Bulletin, Lobbying and Municipal Elections at the City of Toronto

Reports to Council

Report on an Inquiry into Contributions by Lobbyists to a Fundraiser for a Member of Council (adopted by City Council on July 7, 8 and 9, 2015)

Report on an Inquiry into Placing Members of Council in an Apparent Conflict of Interest (adopted by City Council on March 31, April 1 and 2, 2015)

Report on an Inquiry into Placing a City Employee in an Apparent Conflict of Interest (adopted by City Council on March 31, April 1 and 2, 2015)

Report to Council on the Provision of Gifts by a Consultant Lobbyist Firm LOB-Appendix-A-2013-LR-Annual-Report (PDF) (adopted by City Council on April 1, 2 and 3, 2014 – Annual Report of the Lobbyist Registrar for the Year 2013)

Report on an Inquiry into a Fundraising Event (adopted by City Council on February 19 and 20, 2014)

IMPORTANT NOTE: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

Lobbying is recognized as a legitimate activity and regulated at the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government throughout Canada.  The preamble to the Lobbying By-law (the “By-law”) of the City of Toronto states:

WHEREAS the following principles apply to the regulation of lobbying the City government’s public office holders:

A.    The City government’s duty to make decisions in the public interest should not be impeded;

B.    Open and unfettered access to City government is a vital aspect of local democracy;

C.    Lobbying public office holders is a legitimate activity;

D.    Public office holders and the public should be able to know who is attempting to influence City government;

E.    Public disclosure of lobbying activity and standards of conduct for lobbyists are important to the integrity of City government decision-making; and

F.    A system for the registration of lobbying activity and the regulation of the conduct of lobbyists should not impede access to the City government

These principles recognize lobbying’s positive public interest impacts.  City decision-making is enhanced as lobbyists offer different viewpoints, opinions and specialized knowledge to public office holders.  Recognizing that access is vital to local democracy, lobbying is not restricted but regulated.  The online registry allows the public a window into government decision-making that they otherwise would not have.  The Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct (included in the By-law) adds standards of conduct for lobbyists that promote public trust in governmental decision-making.  Lobbying is a legitimate and useful activity when the By-law standards of transparency and conduct are followed.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

November 28, 2016

Chapter 140 of the Toronto Municipal Code, Lobbying (the Lobbying By-law) requires lobbyists to register before lobbying any public office holder and to report lobbying activities within three business days after they occur.  Please see Interpretation Bulletin, Pre-Registration and Post-Registration Requirements

Lobbyists who lobby public office holders at the City of Toronto are expected to familiarize themselves with the requirements to register and to update their registration as required by the Lobbying By-law.

The Lobbyist Registrar may refuse to accept or may revoke a registration or update that does not comply with the requirements of the by-law, including the requirement to register and update registrations within the time limits.  Information about these requirements is available on the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar website, www.toronto.ca/lobbying, or by contacting the OLR by email to lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or telephone at 416-338-5858 (TTY: 416-338-6623).

In addition, failure to comply with the by-law, including the requirement for timely registrations and updates, is an offence under the Provincial Offences Act, and may also result in a report to Council by the Registrar.

The Registrar may accept a late registration or update, in appropriate circumstances.  In deciding whether to exercise the Registrar’s discretion to accept a late registration or update, the following circumstances may be considered:

  • Whether the registrant has a previous record of compliance with the Lobbying By-law;
  • Whether the registrant had previous knowledge or an opportunity for previous knowledge of the Lobbyist Registry and by-law;
  • Whether the registrant complies immediately with all requests for information by the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar;
  • Whether the registrant provides a reasonable excuse for the late registration or update, such as an illness or other significant extenuating circumstance;
  • Whether the registrant held an honest and reasonable but mistaken belief regarding the need to register the communication; and
  • Whether it is in the public interest, including but not limited to the legislated mandate of the lobbyist registry to provide transparency, to allow the late registration.IMPORTANT NOTE: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

December 9, 2011

Introduction

This is a Joint Interpretation Bulletin of the Integrity Commissioner, Lobbyist Registrar and City Clerk, and it is intended to assist members of Council in ensuring compliance with the Council Member-Organized Community Events Policy.[1]  This policy permits donations to Council Member-Organized Community Events that are held on a specific date or series of dates and cannot exceed $10,000 annually (whether for a single event or multiple events).

During an election period, Members of Council are expected to abide by the City of Toronto Policy on the Use of City Resources during an Election and the provisions of the Municipal Elections Act, 1996.  This responsibility includes ensuring that their staff and volunteers working under their direction also abide by these rules and policies, including the Human Resources Management and Ethical Framework for Members’ Staff.

Prohibitions on Accepting Donations from Lobbyists

The policy prohibits a member of Council or a designate acting on behalf of the member from soliciting or accepting support in any form (in cash or in-kind) from those registered with the City as lobbyists or their clients or employers, or developers with any pending planning, conversion, demolition or sign variance application.  For additional clarity, this includes a prohibition on donations from local outlets, branches or franchisees of an organization, association, corporation who is the client of a lobbyist, is a registered lobbyist or is a developer with pending planning, conversion, demolition or sign variance applications.

If the sponsor or donor is registered in the Lobbyist Registry, the donation must be declined.  A member’s acceptance of donations or sponsorships from lobbyists or their clients or employers would contravene the member’s obligations under the Code of Conduct for Members of Council.  In addition, donations or sponsorships by a lobbyist would contravene the lobbyist’s obligations under the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct.

Before accepting any donation, the member of Council should confirm with the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar (416-338-5858 or lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca) whether or not the donor is registered in the Lobbyist Registry.

City Sponsored and Other Joint Events

In the case of a City-sponsored joint event, a City Division may accept sponsorships from a lobbyist.   Sponsorships and donations by a lobbyist must comply with the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct and the City’s Policy on Donations to the City for Community Benefits .  The City Division must make all of the arrangements with the lobbyist and receive the donation.  Members of Council may participate in these events, however, they may not invite lobbyists to participate in City-sponsored joint events.

In the case of an outside group event in which a member of Council is invited to participate, again, a lobbyist may donate to the outside group in order to sponsor the event.  Members of Council cannot receive any funds from lobbyists or issue invitations to lobbyists to sponsor the event.

Reporting Requirements

Members of Council should consult with the Integrity Commissioner prior to soliciting any donation and must report donations in the Donor Declaration Form.  Information about procedures for accepting donations can be found on the website of the Office of the Integrity Commissioner.

Resources

Should you have any questions about Donations to Council Member-Organized Community Events, please contact us anytime.  Ideally, potential issues and concerns can be identified and addressed in advance.


Office of the Integrity Commissioner375 University Avenue

Suite 202

Toronto, ON   M5G 2J5
416-392-3826
integrity@toronto.ca

Office of the Lobbyist Registrar
375 University AvenueSuite 201Toronto, ON   M5G 2J5
416-338-5858
lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca

City Clerk’s OfficeToronto City Hall

100 Queen Street West 13th Floor West

Toronto ON   M5H 2N2

416-392-8016

clerk@toronto.ca

IMPORTANT NOTES:  This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

To rely on the advice of the Integrity Commissioner with respect to specific situations, members of Council must seek written advice consistent with the provisions of Article XVII of the Code of Conduct.

[1] Adopted by City Council in July 2008

November 30, 2017

This Bulletin is written to provide guidance for Lobbyists about their roles and election fundraising.  It is intended to ensure that questions or concerns can be addressed well in advance of an election period, to identify potential situations of conflict of interest or undue influence and to take appropriate action.

1.        The recently amended Municipal Elections Act, 1996 (“MEA”) now prohibits corporations and trade unions from contributing to candidates for municipal office.

2.        Lobbyists are permitted to make contributions in their personal capacity as individuals who are residents of Ontario, in accordance with the requirements of the MEA to candidates in the election.  They may not do so as part of their lobbying activities as a consultant, in-house or voluntary unpaid lobbyist.[1]

3.        During the election period[2], City Council continues to meet and members of Council continue to hold office, whether or not they choose to seek re-election.  Chapter 140 of the Toronto Municipal Code (the Lobbying By-law) continues to apply when lobbying public office holders, including members of Council.[3]  Lobbyists must register before they lobby a public office holder and they must report their lobbying activities.

4.        The Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct continues to apply to lobbyists in their dealings with public office holders.  For example, the Code prohibits lobbying in a form or manner that includes offering, providing or bestowing entertainment, gifts, meals, trips or favours of any kind; requesting public office holders to endorse or recommend lobbyists’ services; and lobbying at a charitable event, community or civic event, or similar public gathering.[4]

5.        Lobbyists must not place public office holders in a conflict of interest or in breach of their codes of conduct or standards of behavior; and they must not bestow an improper benefit or exert improper influence on a public office holder.[5]

6.        A conflict of interest is any interest, relationship, association or activity that may be incompatible with the duties of the public office holder, including the duty to act in the public interest, whether real or apparent.[6]

7.        Lobbyists should take all necessary measures to avoid creating any actual or apparent incompatibility between the public office holder’s personal interests or obligations and his or her public duties, including the duty to act in the public interest.  Certain activities may result in a perception that a public office holder’s ability to serve the public interest has been compromised by a personal interest or obligation.  If so, a conflict of interest has been created.

8.        Certain activities with respect to a Municipal Election campaign may place a public office holder in a conflict of interest.  See the “FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions” below, for a discussion of the risk created by various types of campaign activities.

FAQs ─ Frequently Asked Questions

Q.     I am a registered lobbyist.  May I also register as a candidate in Toronto’s municipal elections?

A.      The Lobbying By-law does not prohibit a lobbyist from registering as a candidate in an election.  As a lobbyist, you must comply with the Lobbying By-law’s registration and reporting requirements, and the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct (Article VI of the Lobbying By-law).

You should seek advice from the Lobbyist Registrar on any specific questions you have about your role as a lobbyist who is also a candidate.

Q.     I am a registered lobbyist or a client of a lobbyist. May I vote, place a campaign sign on my lawn or scrutineer for a candidate in Toronto’s municipal elections?  What restrictions on lobbying will then apply to me, if any, during the election period or should the candidate get elected?

A.      Yes, undertaking any combination of these activities is permitted and lobbying that candidate either during the election period or if elected is acceptable, as is lobbying his or her staff, if done in accordance with the Lobbying By-law.

Q.     I am a registered lobbyist.  May I contribute to the election campaign of a councillor who is running for re-election?

A.      Yes, you are permitted to make a campaign contribution to a candidate if you are an individual living in Ontario.  You may contribute up to $1,200 to any candidate for City Council and up to $2,500 to any mayoralty candidate.  The total amount you may contribute to all candidates for office on City Council is $5,000. However, you must not make this contribution as a form of lobbying about an issue to be decided by City Council.

Q.     I am a lobbyist or a client of a lobbyist.  May I volunteer to work on a candidate’s election campaign?  Will I be able to lobby the candidate if he or she is successful in the election?

A.      Yes.  However, your volunteer work must comply with the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct. If you perform a significant role during the campaign, your activities pose a risk of creating a conflict of interest for the individual seeking to be a councillor should they be elected or re-elected.

For example, serving as the campaign chair, treasurer, fundraising manager or in another strategic role on a campaign team or leading the preparation of a candidate for debates or providing strategic advice in the context of debate preparation, will create, at minimum, a perception of conflict of interest or undue influence.  Lobbyists undertaking such activities on behalf of an individual should not lobby that individual should he or she obtain or retain public office, nor should they lobby his or her staff.

When a lobbyist has carried out activities that pose a risk of creating a conflict of interest, the Registrar is of the view that in most instances, the Lobbyist may not lobby the successful candidate and/or his or her staff for the duration of his or her term of office. However, the Registrar recognizes that for some activities, the Lobbyists risk of creating a conflict of interest may disappear before the end of the successful candidate’s term of office. Consequently, the Registrar may find with regards to these Lobbyists that they may lobby a successful candidate after the lapse of a period of time that is less than the candidate’s full term of office; such a period to be determined at the discretion of the Registrar on a case by case basis.

You should seek the advice of the Lobbyist Registrar regarding whether your volunteer work and your individual circumstances are likely to result in a conflict of interest or undue influence.

Q.     May I volunteer for a candidate who is running in both the municipal and provincial election?

A.     Activities related to a particular candidate’s provincial election campaign may result in a lobbyist placing that candidate in a conflict of interest at the municipal level, that is should the candidate be unsuccessful in the provincial election but get elected at the municipal level and the Lobbyist subsequently lobby them.

Such activities will be treated as if they occurred in relation to the candidate’s municipal campaign and analyzed in accordance with the principles articulated in the previous question.

Q.     May I buy a ticket for a political fundraising function?

A.      Yes, if you are an individual living in Ontario and this amount will not result in you exceeding the contribution limits under the Municipal Elections Act, as noted above.  You must comply with the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct.  You must not buy the ticket as a form of lobbying.

Q.     May I fundraise for a candidate? If I do, will I be able to lobby that candidate if he or she is successful?

A.      Fundraising by a lobbyist creates a significant likelihood that a conflict of interest will result, should the lobbyist engage in lobbying that member of Council or candidate, once elected.[7]

Justice Bellamy recommended:

113.    Professional lobbyists should not engage in any type of political fundraising for candidates or councillors they lobby, beyond making their own donations.

120.    When registering, lobbyists should certify that they have not engaged in political fundraising at the City beyond making their own allowable donations.

Therefore, we advise that lobbyists should not fundraise for a candidate, if their intent is to lobby that candidate once elected, or if they are concurrently lobbying a candidate who is a member of Council during the election period.  Alternatively, they should not lobby a public office holder for whom they fundraise.  For further advice on particular situations, lobbyists should contact the Lobbyist Registrar.

Q.     May an organization that lobbies hold an all candidates meeting or a similar election event?

A.      Yes, if it is an all candidates debate.  All candidate debates to which the public is invited are not considered to be lobbying activities.  In some circumstances, though, an organization may be required to report an election event as a lobbying activity.[8]  Lobbyists should seek advice from the Lobbyist Registrar on whether to report an election event as a lobbying activity if:

1.    The holder or sponsor of the event is registered to lobby about subjects that will be considered in the current term of Council and these subjects will be discussed at the event;

2.    The invited candidates include members of the current Council; and

3.    The event is not open to the public, is by invitation only or by purchase of a ticket.

 

For more information, please see the website of the Lobbyist Registrar, or contact the office as follows:

Office of the Lobbyist Registrar:  www.toronto.ca/lobbying

E-mail: lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca

Tel.: 416-338-5858

TTY: 416-338 6623

IMPORTANT NOTE: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

[1] For more information about individual contributions, see the City’s Elections website, www.toronto.ca/elections.
[2] In Toronto, the “election period” runs from May 1 of an election year (the first date a nomination may be filed) until the date of the election.
[3] “Public office holders” are members of City Council and their staff; an officer or employee of the City; members of local boards (restricted definition) of the City and their staff; officers, directors or employees of local boards (restricted definition) of the City; members of the Board of Health; and individuals appointed by Council, a Standing Committee or a Community Council under delegated authority, or a local board (restricted definition) to an advisory body to provide advice to Council, the Standing Committee, the Community Council or the local board (restricted definition) or to employees of the City or local board (restricted definition).  See the City of Toronto Act, 2006, s. 156 and § 140-1 “PUBLIC OFFICE HOLDER”.
[4] § 140-42, Toronto Municipal Code, Lobbying (the Lobbying By-law).
[5] § 140-45, Toronto Municipal Code, Lobbying (the Lobbying By-law).
[6] In her report on the Toronto Computer Leasing Inquiry and Toronto External Contracts Inquiry, Madam Justice Denise E. Bellamy, Commissioner, wrote that “conflict of interest is essentially a conflict between public and private interests”:

Conflicts of interest confuse decision-makers and distract them from their duty to make decisions in the best interests of the public, which can result in harm to the community.  The driving consideration behind conflict of interest rules is the public good.  In this context, a conflict of interest is essentially a conflict between public and private interests.   . . .  The core concern in a conflict is the presumption that bias and a lack of impartial judgement will lead a decision-maker in public service to prefer his or her own personal interests over the public good.  . . . conflicts of interest extend to any interest, loyalty, concern, emotion, or other feature of a situation tending to make the individual’s judgement less reliable than it would normally be. (Toronto Computer Leasing Inquiry, Toronto External Contracts Inquiry, Report, Vol. 2, Good Government, pp. 38ff)

See also, Lobbyist Registrar for the City of Toronto, Report to Council on an Inquiry into Placing members of Council in an Apparent Conflict of Interest (March 23, 2015) pages 6 to 14.
[7] Democracy Watch v. Campbell, 2009 FCA 79 (CanLII) (Federal Court of Appeal).
[8] See Lobbyist Registrar’s Report to Council on an Inquiry: Lobbying in an Election Event. (April 3, 2012)

Introduction

This interpretation bulletin discusses the rules in Chapter 140 of the Toronto Municipal Code, Lobbying (the “Lobbying By-law”) that apply when lobbying the City of Toronto (the “City”) about the procurement of goods, services or construction and awarding a contract.

The relevant provisions of the Lobbying By-law that apply to procurements are found below:

Section 140-1. Definitions.

LOBBY – To communicate with a public office holder on any of the following subject matters:

B. (2)   Procurement of goods, services or construction and awarding a contract.

Section 140-5. Restriction on application (communication).

This chapter does not apply in respect of:

G.    Submitting a bid or proposal as part of the procurement process, and any communication with designated employees of the City, a local board (restricted definition) or the Board of Health (including a City employee when working as a designated employee for a board), as permitted by Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 195, Purchasing, the procurement policies and procurement documents of the City, local board (restricted definition) or Board of Health.

Section 140-41. Compliance with policies restricting communication.

A.    Lobbyists shall not communicate in relation to a procurement process except as permitted by Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 195, Purchasing, applicable procurement policies and procurement documents.

. . .

C.    In the event of a conflict or inconsistency between Subsection A and any other provision of this chapter, Subsection A prevails.

Section 140-9.1. Duty to report for employees involved in a purchasing process.

A.    This section applies to any purchasing involved employee with respect to all activities occurring during the time period the purchasing involved employee is involved in or participates in a purchasing process.

B.    A purchasing involved employee upon having reasonable grounds to believe that a breach of this chapter has occurred or will occur, shall as soon as reasonably practicable:

(1)   report the breach to the Lobbyist Registrar for investigation and resolution, by providing the basis for the belief that a breach of this chapter has occurred, or may occur; and

(2)   provide the Lobbyist Registrar with any documents, information, or other evidence which the purchasing involved employee believes are or may be relevant to the breach.

The relevant provision of Chapter 195 of the Toronto Municipal Code, Purchasing (the “Purchasing By-law”) is found under Article 13, the Supplier Code of Conduct, it states:

Section 195-13.9. Prohibited communication during the solicitation.

No supplier, or affiliated person, may discuss or communicate either verbally, or in writing, with any employee, public office holder, or the media in relation to any solicitation between the time of the issuance of the solicitation to the award and execution of final form of contract, unless such communication is expressly permitted in the solicitation and in compliance with Chapter 140, Lobbying. All supplier communications shall be with the Chief Purchasing Official or the employee specifically designated for that purpose in the solicitation.

What is Procurement?

The acquisition of goods and/or services by any contractual means, including purchase, rental, lease or conditional sale.

What is a Procurement Process?

The process that begins after the City has decided on its requirement and continues through to and including contract award and execution.

What is a procurement document (solicitation)?

A written notice to suppliers, whether or not it is publically advertised or intended to result in a contract, and includes a:

A.    Request for Expressions of Interest (REOI);

B.    Request for Information (RFI);

C.    Request for Supplier Prequalification (RFSQ);

D.    Request for Proposals (RFP);

E.    Request for Quotations (RFQ); and

F.    Request for Tenders (RFT).

What is the award and final form of contract with a supplier?

The formal acceptance of a bid and the resulting signed written contract between the City and the successful supplier.

What communications must a lobbyist report to the Lobbyist Registry?

Prior to the issuance of a solicitation, or after the award and execution of final form of contract, the Lobbying By-law requires lobbyists to register and report communications with public office holders about the procurement of goods, services or construction and awarding of a contract. These communications are considered to be lobbying.

For example:

  • The City has not issued a solicitation for widgets and you meet with a public office holder to discuss how your widgets may be of interest to the City; you must register as a lobbyist and report this communication.
  • The City has awarded and executed the final form of contract with a supplier out of a solicitation for widgets, and you meet with a public office holder to discuss your widgets; you must register as a lobbyist and report this communication.

Generally, communications received through any medium attempting to sell or promote a service or product to the City, colloquially referred to as “cold calling” or “door knocking” in the selling process, constitute lobbying and require registration.

What communications are not considered lobbying and do not need to be reported to the Lobbyist Registry?

The Lobbying By-law does not apply to, and registration is not required when:

  • submitting a bid or proposal in response to a solicitation (this includes submitting an unsolicited quotation or proposal to the Toronto Office of Partnerships (TOP); or
  • communicating about a solicitation with the Chief Purchasing Official or the employee specifically designated for that purpose in the solicitation document.

When is lobbying about a procurement process prohibited?

Subsection 140-41A prohibits lobbyists from communicating about a procurement process except as permitted by the Purchasing By-law, the applicable procurement policies and procurement documents.

From the issuance of a solicitation until the award and execution of final form of contract, only communication with the Chief Purchasing Official or the employee specifically designated for that purpose in the solicitation is permitted.  All other communications, excluding the submission of the bid or proposal, are strictly prohibited during this period; this is typically referred to as the “blackout period”.

For example:

  • The Fleet Services Division issues a solicitation, a Request for Quotations (RFQ), for trucks; the solicitation names Harold Bargan as the designated point of contact for the RFQ, The Festival Truck Company (FTC) submits a bid to the City; this is not lobbying.
  • Alexei Sales from FTC sends an email to the Chief Purchasing Official and Mr. Bargan during the procurement process asking about the requirement that all the trucks be convertibles; this is not lobbying.
  • Mr. Sales, dissatisfied with Mr. Bargan’s response then sends an email to a manager in the Fleet Services Division asking about the requirement that all the trucks be convertibles; this is lobbying and more importantly, lobbying during the blackout period in contravention of the Lobbying By-law.

Do any exemptions apply when communication about a procurement is prohibited?

Subsection 140-41C states that in the event of a conflict, the restriction on communications in Subsection 140-41A prevails over all other provisions of the Lobbying By-law.

For example, returning to the scenario above:

  • Prior to the award of the RFQ, the Festival Truck Company’s (FTC) bid was declared non-compliant by the Chief Purchasing Official for failing to fill out the pricing form in the RFQ document.
  • Alexei Sales emails the Mayor and his local councillor to complain about FTC being declared non-compliant.
  • Under subsection 140-5D, complaints about a service made to a public office holder are exempt from the application of the Lobbying By-law.  However, this exemption is nullified by the operation of subsection 140-41C and this communication remains subject to the restrictions in subsection 140-41A.  This is lobbying during the blackout period in contravention of the Lobbying By-law.

For the dispute resolution process that does not offend the Lobbying By-law, please refer to the Purchasing and Material Management Division’s Pre-Award and Post-Award Bid Dispute Procedure.

During the blackout period related to a procurement, lobbyists continue to have the right as members of the public “to participate in the decision-making process by writing to Council or committee, by submitting a public petition, or by making a public presentation, as the procedures by-law describes”.[1]

Unsolicited Proposals

Unsolicited proposals are governed by the City’s Unsolicited Quotations or Proposals Policy adopted by Council on June 19, 20 and 22, 2007 (the Policy).  In January 2008, the Toronto Office of Partnerships issued procedures under this policy, entitled Process for Receiving and Reviewing Unsolicited Quotations and Proposals (the TOP process document).  Section 1.4 of the TOP process document provides “Staff Guidelines” as follows:

Section 1(b) of the Policy states that an unsolicited quotation or proposal is not to be considered if “it requires substantial assistance from the city to complete the quotation or proposal.”

To ensure that proponents do not contravene this section, thereby invalidating the unsolicited offer, all initial inquiries relating to unsolicited quotations or proposals are to be referred to the Toronto Office of Partnerships (TOP).  TOP is to be the sole point of contact prior to the submission of any documentation.  TOP will serve as a liaison for a potential proponent and will, as required, consult directly with the relevant Division(s) to coordinate the appropriate advice and guidance requested by the proponent.  (Emphasis added)

Duty to Report

City staff involved in purchasing processes are required to report breaches of the Lobbying By-law to the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar.

Offences and Penalties

A contravention of the Lobbying By-law is an offence under the Provincial Offences Act of Ontario punishable by a fine of not more than $25,000 on first conviction and of not more than $100,000 on each subsequent conviction; furthermore, under the Lobbying By-law, a lobbyist found in contravention may be subject to a temporary ban on lobbying and/or have conditions placed on their existing or future registrations.

In addition, the Purchasing By-law prescribes penalties for lobbying in breach of the Suppliers Code of Conduct.  For example, the Chief Purchasing Official may disqualify a supplier from being awarded a contract and/or, in consultation with the City Solicitor, may suspend a supplier’s eligibility to bid for up to six (6) months.  City Council may suspend a supplier’s eligibility to bid for a period between one (1) and five (5) years due to a contravention of the Supplier Code of Conduct.  For the complete list of penalties available under the Purchasing By-law please refer to that document.

Contact for More Information
Office of the Lobbyist Registrar

Email: lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca

Tel.: 416-338-5858

www.toronto.ca/lobbying

IMPORTANT NOTE:  This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

 

[1] Please refer to Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 27, Council Procedures, Council Procedures By-law, s. 27-11.  Section 27-4 of Chapter 27 provides: “In the case of a conflict, the procedures by-law has a higher priority than any other City by-law or Municipal Code Chapter, and will apply to the extent of any conflict.”

 

May 30, 2018

City Council requested the City Solicitor and the Lobbyist Registrar to develop guidelines and protocols to deal with the procurement process as it relates to the retention of consultants and, in particular, report on provisions to condition their lobbying activities after working for the City on contract.

This Interpretation Bulletin addresses the Lobbying By-law (Chapter 140, Toronto Municipal Code) with respect to the lobbying activities of contractors, including consultants, who hold contracts with the City.

I have consulted with the City Solicitor and the Director, Purchasing and Materials Management Division in preparing this Interpretation Bulletin.

The following provisions are relevant:

Section 140-41A. Procurements

A.   Lobbyists shall not communicate in relation to a procurement process except as permitted by applicable procurement policies and procurement documents.

Section 140-43. Confidentiality

E.   Lobbyists shall not divulge confidential information unless they have obtained the informed consent of their client, employer or organization, or disclosure is required by law.

F.   Lobbyists shall not use any confidential or other insider information obtained in the course of their lobbying activities to the disadvantage of their client, employer or organization.

Section 140-44. Competing Interests

A.   Lobbyists shall not represent conflicting or competing interests without the written consent of those whose interests are involved.

B.   Lobbyists shall advise public office holders that they have informed their clients of any actual, potential or apparent conflict of interest and obtained the informed consent of each client concerned before proceeding or continuing with the undertaking.

Section 140-45. Improper Influence

A.   Lobbyists shall avoid both the deed and the appearance of impropriety.

B.   Lobbyists shall not place public office holders in a conflict of interest or in breach of the public office holders’ codes of conduct or standards of behaviour.

C.  Lobbyists shall not propose or undertake any action that would bestow an improper benefit or constitute an improper influence on a public office holder.

For the purposes of this Interpretation Bulletin:

Contractor – means a legal entity, including employees of the legal entity, who has contracted with the City directly or indirectly to supply goods or services including consulting services to the City.

Lobbying about Future Contracts

Contractors who wish to obtain further contracts with the City are subject to the provisions of the Lobbying By-law, including the provisions of the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct quoted above.  Lobbyists who wish to communicate about a procurement process should always comply with the City’s procurement policies and procedures when doing so (s. 140-41A).  During a procurement process, a potential Contractor must follow the procurement policies and procedures adopted by Council (s. 195-20A).  Contractors must also comply with their ongoing contractual obligations to the City despite any participation in or lobbying on another procurement process.

Lobbyists must avoid the deed and appearance of impropriety.  An individual who uses, or appears to use, their contractual relationship with the City to create a personal advantage in future procurement processes is an example of a deed or appearance of impropriety.

Consequently, Contractors should never use their existing contractual relationships to influence a future procurement process.  Recommendation 108 of Madam Justice Denise Bellamy in her Report,  Toronto Computer Leasing Inquiry / Toronto External Contracts Inquiry (2005, Volume 2, Good Government, page 86) states in part: “lobbying aimed at influencing the procurement process before it occurs . . . should be considered inappropriate.”

Examples of inappropriate action include:

  • Unsolicited Proposals

It is permissible for contractors to discuss the performance of a current contract with City staff, including amendments that may be permitted under the contract.  However, a Contractor who introduces an unsolicited proposal for future services that are not part of the contract in the course of discussions about or during the administration of a current contract may create the appearance of impropriety.  It may appear that the Contractor has lobbied with the aim of influencing a procurement process before it has occurred (s. 140-45).

  • Divulging or Using Confidential Information Acquired in the course of Performing a Contract

Lobbyists must not divulge confidential information that they have acquired in the course of performing a contract with the City or to use such information for other purposes.  In particular, they must not use such information for their personal advantage or to create an advantage for another client (ss. 140-43, 140-44, 140-45).

  • Lobbying about the Subject Matter of the Contract

A Contractor who lobbies about a subject matter for which he or she holds a contract to give paid advice to the City engages in inappropriate behaviour that violates the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct in several ways.  A lobbyist who engages in this practice would be in a conflict of interest.  The practice may also involve inappropriate use of confidential information.  As a result, the activities create an appearance of impropriety and should be avoided (ss. 140-43, 140-44 and 140-45)[1].  In addition to the obligations found within Chapter 140, Lobbying, the City may impose in a contract similar or greater restrictions on a Contractor’s ability to lobby on the same subject matter as the contract.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.


[1]   In several Canadian jurisdictions, it is prohibited for a person to lobby about a subject matter for which they are providing paid advice to the same government:  Alberta, Lobbyists Act, s. 6; British Columbia Lobbyists Registration Act, s. 2.1; Manitoba Lobbyists Registration Act, s. 10(1).

November 22, 2012

The purpose of this interpretation bulletin is to provide guidance on lobbying during the period from Election Day (October 22, 2018) until the new term of Council begins (December 01, 2018).  This bulletin refers to that period as the “Transition Period”.

The Lobbying By-law, requires lobbyists to register before they lobby public office holders and to report their lobbying activities within three business days afterward.  This requirement achieves transparency and integrity in lobbying, as set out in the Lobbying By-law’s guiding principles D. and E.:

  1. Public office holders and the public should be able to know who is attempting to influence City government;
  2. Public disclosure of lobbying activity and standards of conduct for lobbyists are important to the integrity of City government decision making;

Lobbyists may register new subject matters during the transition period.  Previously registered subject matters continue to be in effect during the transition period.

Newly elected members of Council who did not hold office on October 22, 2018 (“New Members”) become public office holders when they take office on December 01, 2018.  Before this date, they are not public office holders.  Lobbyists are not required to report their lobbying activities with respect to the New Members that occur during the Transition Period.  Consistent with the guiding principles of transparency and integrity, it is a best practice not to lobby New Members until they take office.

Re-elected members of Council who held office October 22, 2018 (“Returning Members”) continue to be public office holders throughout the Transition Period.  Lobbyists are required to report their lobbying activities during the Transition Period with respect to Returning Members.

Members of Council who held office but were not re-elected on October 22, 2018 continue to be public office holders during the Transition Period.  Lobbyists must report their lobbying activities with respect to these members during the Transition Period.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

May 2, 2017

This bulletin is written to provide guidance for members of Council and Lobbyists about their roles in relation to third party advertising during the upcoming municipal election period (May 1 to October 22, 2018).  It is intended to ensure that questions or concerns can be addressed well in advance of the election period, to identify potential situations of conflict of interest or undue influence and to take appropriate action.

1.        The recently amended Municipal Elections Act, 1996 (“MEA”) introduced a framework to regulate third party advertisers.  Third party advertising is defined as an advertisement in any broadcast, print, electronic or other medium that has the purpose of promoting, supporting or opposing a candidate or “yes” or “no” answer to a question on the ballot.  Between May 1 and October 22, 2018, individuals, corporations and trade unions that wish to conduct third party advertising must be registered with the City Clerk before they advertise.

2.        In accordance with the provisions of the MEA, lobbyists are permitted to make contributions to registered third party advertisers during the election campaign period in their personal capacity as individuals who are residents of Ontario.  They may not do so as part of their lobbying activities as a consultant, in-house or voluntary unpaid lobbyist.[1]

FAQs ─ Frequently Asked Questions

Q.     I am a registered lobbyist.  May I also register as a third party advertiser in Toronto’s municipal elections?

A.      The Lobbying By-law does not prohibit a lobbyist from registering as a third party advertiser in an election.  As a lobbyist, you must comply with the Lobbying By-law’s registration and reporting requirements, and the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct (Article VI of the Lobbying By-law).

You should seek advice from the Lobbyist Registrar on any specific questions you have about your role as a lobbyist who is also a registered third party advertiser.

Q.     I am a registered lobbyist.  May I contribute to a registered third party advertiser?

A.      Yes, you are permitted to make a contribution to a registered third party advertiser if you are an individual living in Ontario The maximum contribution from a single contributor to a particular registered third party advertiser is $1,200 and the maximum total contribution to two or more registered third parties advertisers in a municipality is $5,000. Your contribution cannot be made as a form of lobbying about an issue to be decided by City Council.

Q.     I am a lobbyist or a client of a lobbyist.  May I volunteer to work for a registered third party advertiser?

A.      Yes.  However, your volunteer work must comply with the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct.  If you perform a significant role for the third party advertiser (for example, as Creative Director or Chief Strategist), this may create a perception of conflict of interest or undue influence.  You should seek the advice of the Lobbyist Registrar regarding whether your volunteer work and your individual circumstances are likely to result in a conflict of interest or undue influence.

Q.     May I fundraise for a registered third party advertiser?

A.      Fundraising by a lobbyist creates a significant likelihood that a conflict of interest will result should the lobbyist engage in lobbying the member of Council that the advertising promoted or supported.

Justice Bellamy recommended:

113.    Professional lobbyists should not engage in any type of political fundraising for candidates or councillors they lobby, beyond making their own donations.

120.    When registering, lobbyists should certify that they have not engaged in political fundraising at the City beyond making their own allowable donations.

Therefore, we advise that lobbyists should not fundraise for a registered third party advertiser, if their intent is to lobby the candidate on whose behalf the third party advertising was taken, once elected, or if they are concurrently lobbying a candidate who is a member of Council during the election period and on whose behalf the third party advertising was taken.  For further advice on particular situations, lobbyists should contact the Lobbyist Registrar.

For more information, please see the website of the Lobbyist Registrar, or contact the office as follows:

Office of the Lobbyist Registrar:  www.toronto.ca/lobbying

E-mail: lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca

Tel.: 416-338-5858

IMPORTANT NOTE: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

[1]§ 140-42, Toronto Municipal Code, Lobbying (the Lobbying By-law).

§ 140-45, Toronto Municipal Code, Lobbying (the Lobbying By-law).

The Lobbying By-law (the “By-law”) regulates the conduct of lobbyists by requiring adherence to the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct (the “Code”), the provisions of which every lobbyist must follow.  The Code governs the standards of lobbying behaviour.  Failure to meet the standards of conduct is a breach of the By-law and attracts enforcement.

Standards of conduct for lobbyists are important to the integrity of City government decision-making and adherence to these standards by lobbyists is foundational to building public trust.  Holding lobbyists to a high standard of professional conduct underscores the importance of lobbying to City democracy and strengthens public confidence in City government.  The Code supports the City’s focus on transparency and accountability by requiring all lobbyists to comply with the ethical standards pertaining to: standards of behaviour, honesty, disclosure of identity and purpose, and compliance with policies restricting communication.

There are eight provisions in the Code and the general principles of each are summarized below:

Section 140-38. Standard of behaviour.

  • Lobbyists shall comply with the standards of behaviour for lobbyists and the conduct of lobbying activities set out in this article when lobbying public office holders.
  • Lobbyists shall observe and comply with the highest ethical and professional standards.
  • The Code sets out minimum standards of behaviour for lobbyists in their dealings with the City government, including local boards and public office holders.

Section 140-39. Honesty.

  • Lobbying of public office holders must be conducted with integrity and honesty.

Section 140-40. Disclosure of identity and purpose.

  • Lobbyists communicating with a public office holder shall disclose the identity of the individual, corporation, organization or partnership, on whose behalf they are acting, as well as the reasons for the communication.
  • Lobbyists communicating with a public office holder on a duly registered and disclosed subject matter are required to submit and disclose a new subject matter before lobbying about something new or different.
  • See the Registrar’s related report:

Section 140-41. Compliance with policies restricting communication.

Section 140-42. Prohibited activities.

Section 140-43. Information; confidentiality.

  • Information – Lobbyists must inform their client/employer/organization of their obligations under the Lobbying By-law.  All information provided by a lobbyist must be accurate and factual and lobbyists shall not knowingly mislead anyone and take proper care to avoid doing so.
  • Confidentiality – Lobbyists must be open and frank about their lobbying activities and, at the same time, confidentiality must be respected.  Lobbyists cannot divulge confidential information without the consent of clients.  Further, any confidential information a lobbyist obtains during the course of his or her lobbying activities cannot be used to the disadvantage of their client/employer/organization.
  • See the Registrar’s related report:

Section 140-44. Competing interests.

  • Lobbyists cannot represent conflicting or competing interests without the consent of all parties involved.  If consent is obtained, the lobbyist must tell any public holders lobbied that they have obtained this consent.

Section 140-45. Improper influence.

Important note: This Interpretation Bulletin is not the official version of the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct The official version may be found at Article VI of the Lobbying By-law.  This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

February 10, 2017

Communicating with City of Toronto Public Office Holders who are Assigned to Negotiate a Settlement or Claim does not Require Registration

A claimant or a party to an action, or their representative, may contact employees who have a role in negotiating that settlement, and these communications are exempt from registration.  In most cases, the City or local board will have assigned legal staff or other senior staff to reach a settlement agreement or to discuss a litigation or claim matter with the representative of the litigant or claimant.  In usual practice, the assigned staff will designate which City or local board employees will be relevant to the matter and arrange communication if appropriate and applicable.  Each type of negotiation follows a defined process.

Communicating with City of Toronto Public Office Holders who are not Assigned to Negotiate a Settlement or Claim does require Registration

If a claimant or a party to an action, or their representative, communicates privately, that is outside of the defined process and with public office holders other than those assigned to the process and who do not have a role in negotiating the settlement or processing the claim, those communications must be registered unless another specific exemption applies.

For more information, please read the section above on “Exempt Communications” and the Lobbying By-law, s. 140-5F.

For more information, please read the section below on “Pre-Registration and Post-Registration Requirements.”

When registration is required, the lobbyist must register before communicating with a public office holder on the subject matter.

Important note: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

May 2, 2017

Not-for-profit organizations – exemptions from registration

See:  Toronto Municipal Code, Lobbying, Chapter 140 as amended, s. 140-4 as amended, ss. 140-1, 140-27, 140-11

Exemption when acting in official capacity

Generally, not-for-profit organizations do not have to register if they lobby while acting in their official capacity.

Exceptions

Some types of not-for-profit organizations are required to register when they lobby, regardless of whether they are acting in their official capacity, including:

  • An organization related to professions, labour groups, business, industry or a for-profit entity;
  • An organization that is funded by a for-profit entity to advance the financial or commercial interests of the for-profit entity.

When a not-for-profit organization hires a consultant lobbyist to lobby on its behalf, the consultant lobbyist must register.

Requirement to register to lobby about grant applications, awards or other financial benefits

Generally, not-for-profit organizations are required to register to lobby about a grant application, award or other financial benefit.  Not-for-profit community service organizations are exempt from this requirement.

Important note: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice. For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

December 4, 2008

Communication about Planning Applications may require Registration

An applicant, interested party or their representative must register with the lobbyist registry before communicating with public office holders such as City employees, councillors and their staff about planning and development applications, unless an exemption applies.  Examples of planning and development applications include:

  • Development Approval Application
  • Official Plan Amendment Application
  • Zoning By-law Amendment Application
  • Plan of Subdivision Application
  • Plan of Condominium Application
  • Site Plan Control Approval Application
  • Part Lot Control Exemption Application
  • Committee of Adjustment Application
  • Rental Housing Demolition and Conversion: Application
  • Telecommunications Towers Application

Communications Exempt from the Registration Requirement

1.  Communication restricted to providing general information or to inquire about the application review process.  s. 140-5F(1)

An applicant, an interested party or their representatives may communicate with City staff or a member of Council about an application (including a pending or proposed application), to provide general information on the application, or to inquire about the application review process.

“General information” is factual and non-specific in nature, such as:

  • the identification of the applications, plans, information/studies and related supporting documents that will be required
  • the content of any of the applications, plans, information/studies or related supporting documents
  • the identification of key issues and the approvals that will be required and identify the supporting drawings, reports and studies required to achieve complete application status in accordance with the Planning Act and the Toronto Official Plan.

“Providing general information” or “inquiring about the application process” does not include:

  • promoting or attempting to persuade as to the merits of an application
  • advocating for the approval, rejection or amendment of an application
  • soliciting a public office holder to support or not actively oppose an application

2.  Communication with employees assigned to review the application.  s. 140-5F(2)

An applicant, an interested party or their representatives may communicate with City staff who have a role in processing a particular planning application (planners, support staff and managers up to and including the Chief Planner) for pre-application consultations, to file an application or as part of the application review process.  The applicant may also contact employees from other City divisions or local boards who have a role in providing input to the review of the application, such as the Toronto Building, Transportation or Water Services Divisions, about the application during the review process.

3.  Communication at Public Meetings and Consultations.  s. 140-5B(2)

Communications submitted to or occurring during a public process related to the application review process are exempt.  This includes a public meeting, hearing, consultation, presentation, open house or media event that is part of the administrative review process with respect to a planning application or approval.  Private conversations at such events are not exempt from registration.

4.  Technical information.  s. 140-12

Planning applicants may engage planning consultants, architects, engineers, interpreters and other experts.  These experts may participate in meetings and communications to provide technical information or translation services without registering.  However, these experts must register if they promote the merits of a planning application or advocate for approval or the terms of approval with a public office holder outside of the application review process.

5.  Communication about a personal residence.  s. 140-1 “LOBBYIST”

An applicant is exempt from registration if the application concerns a personal residence and there is no residence-based business or business interest.  Such a person is exempt as they are not a consultant, in‑house or voluntary lobbyist as defined in the chapter.  If the applicant hires someone to communicate for them, that person must register as a consultant lobbyist.

6.  Communication by a ward constituent.  s. 140-6

A ward constituent who communicates with his or her member of Council about a general neighbourhood issue, including a planning or building issue, is exempt from registration.  The communication must not be for the special benefit of the individual, business or organization.  If a consultant lobbyist is hired by the ward constituent, the consultant must register.

When to Register a Planning and Development Subject Matter

Before lobbying takes place

A planning and development subject matter registration must be approved before lobbying occurs.  Lobbyists must disclose and describe their planning and development subject matter, and provide other information about clients, employers, other beneficiaries and grass-roots communication.  A subject matter registration number is assigned when the subject matter registration is approved.

After lobbying has occurred

Within three business days from the date of each communication with a public office holder about a registered planning and development subject matter, registrants must return to the registry system to disclose the public office holders with whom they have communicated, the date of the communication and the communication methods used.

How to Select a Planning and Development Subject Matter

Subject Matter Categories

Planning and development subject matter categories are pre-defined for registrants.  Consistency in registration is required for public disclosure and assists in searching the lobbyist registry.

  • Planning and Development, Planning Policy / Study
  • Planning and Development, Environmental Assessment
  • Planning and Development, Heritage
  • Planning and Development, Rental Housing Demolition or Conversion
  • Planning and Development Application, Official Plan
  • Planning and Development Application, Zoning By-law
  • Planning and Development Application, Plan of Subdivision
  • Planning and Development Application, Plan of Condominium
  • Planning and Development Application, Site Plan
  • Planning and Development Application, Minor Variance
  • Planning and Development Application, Consent to Sever
  • Planning and Development Application, Part Lot
  • Planning and Development, Combined Application

Subject Matter must be Current

The subject matter must be a current planning matter or application, or an application about to be submitted.  Some planning and development applications require several approvals and take place over an extended period of time.  Only those planning subject matters that are relevant at the time should be registered.

Combined Applications

For a combined application, only the approvals sought at the time should be specified (not all future approvals that may be contemplated for the site).  For example, an applicant may initially register to communicate on “Planning and Development, Combined Application: Official Plan and Zoning By-law”.  After these approvals are in place, if a new planning application is submitted for the same development site, a separate subject matter registration is required if lobbying is to occur on the new planning application.

Entering information in the Specific Decisions and Issues to be Lobbied field of the Registry System

In the decisions and issues field, registrants must provide specific details to describe the planning and development subject matter:

  • Planning Policy / Study: include the name of the policy or area being studied and a brief description of the issue or proposal.
  • Environmental Assessment: include the name of the proposal being assessed including the location and a brief description of the issue.
  • Heritage: specify if it is about a listing, designation, alteration or demolition, and include the location of the heritage structure.
  • Rental Housing Demolition or Conversion: include the location.
  • Planning and Development Application: identify the project by name (if applicable) and location; include any major related issues such as Section 37 agreement, easements, road /transit access, site services, storm water management, land dedication (provided these are part of the planning approval).

The municipal address of the property for which application is being made is required. If there is no street address, provide the intersection or use the description that City Planning will use in processing the application.

Entering the End Date in the Registry System

The expected end date for communicating on a subject matter should not exceed twelve months from the start date.  An extension may be requested where lobbying activity is to continue.

Important note: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

November 15, 2012

According to the Lobbying By-law, lobbying is communicating with public office holders[1] on a range of subjects including decisions on by-laws, policies and programs, grants, purchasing, and applications for services, permits, licences or other permission.  Registration as a lobbyist is required prior to communicating with public office holders about a lobbying matter[2].  The registration process is free and completed online on our website www.toronto.ca/lobbying.  The registration process is completed in two steps – first step is to register as a lobbyist and the second step is to register a subject matter (i.e. issue or decision being lobbied about).  A lobbyist registration number and a subject matter registration number are assigned when the registrations are completed and approved.  It is a prerequisite to obtain both approvals prior to communicating about a subject matter with a public office holder(s).

See our new interactive questionnaire “Do I Need to Register as a Lobbyist?to determine whether or not registration is required.

REGISTRATION AS A LOBBYIST (CREATING A PROFILE)

To register as a lobbyist, one is required to select the class of lobbyist to which they belong (i.e. in-house, consultant or voluntary[1]), create a profile and set up an account.

In-house Lobbyists

The registrant must provide information regarding their name, business or organization name, their contact information and information about their employer.  For a business, a senior officer must be the registrant and represent the business in the lobbyist registry system.  For an organization, the most senior compensated employee or officer must be the registrant and represent the organization in the lobbyist registry system.  The senior officer must also disclose their employer’s business activities and fiscal year, the in-house lobbyists who may lobby on behalf of the employer/organization, other beneficiaries, and government funding and other particulars.

In the case of an organization, if a committee is to meet with public office holders, the senior officer must disclose the committee and its members as part of the lobbyist registration to make this information available in the subject matter registration.

Consultant and Voluntary Lobbyists

The registrant must provide information regarding their name, title, business name and their contact information.

SUBJECT MATTER REGISTRATION (REQUIRED PRIOR TO COMMUNICATING WITH A PUBLIC OFFICE HOLDER)

The next step is the registration of a subject matter (i.e. the issue or decision the registrant intending to communicate about with the public office holder(s).  The registration of a subject matter has to be completed before any communication with a public office holder(s) occurs.  Registrants can register more than one subject matter under their lobbyist registration (a separate subject matter registration is required for each new topic or issue where lobbying activity is to occur).  A subject matter registration number is assigned when the subject matter registration is approved.  As part of the subject matter registration, the registrant must disclose the following information:

Consultant and Voluntary Lobbyists

Registrants must disclose the subject matter about which they will communicate, and provide specific details to describe the subject matter.  Registrants must also disclose information about their client, other beneficiaries including any person with significant control, financial contributions (non-government) towards the lobbying activity, government funding received by the client and other particulars.  The proposed start and end date of the lobbying activity needs to be specified as well.  For more information please read the Interpretation Bulletin below on “What Information Must a Consultant Lobbyist Provide About the Client?”

In-house Lobbyists

Registrants must disclose the subject matter about which they will communicate, and provide specific details to describe the subject matter.  The senior officer must assign or designate which lobbyists will communicate with public office holders regarding the subject matter, and disclose financial contributions (non-government) towards the lobbying activity.  The subject matter registration may remain in effect for the fiscal year of the business or organization, unless the lobbying activity is planned for a shorter duration.

Committee of an Organization

In the case of an organization, if a committee is to meet with public office holders, the senior officer must assign or designate the committee and specify the meeting date as part of the initial subject matter registration.

Grass-roots Communication (In-house Lobbyists, Consultant and Voluntary Lobbyists)

Registrants must disclose if they intend to initiate grass-roots communication.  This involves identifying who will be asked to participate in the campaign, the public office holders who are to be contacted, and the campaign period.  For more information on grass-roots lobbying, please see the Interpretation Bulletin above on “Grass-roots Campaigns.”

UPDATES WHICH ARE REQUIRED AFTER LOBBYING HAS OCCURRED

Reporting Communications with Public Office Holders

Within three business days from the date of communication with a public office holder about a registered subject matter, registrants must return to the registry system to disclose the public office holder with whom they have communicated, the communication methods used and the date of communication.

Reporting Communications by a Committee of an Organization

Where an organization lobbies by committee, the participants must be disclosed within three business days of the committee meeting.  The senior officer must return to the registry system to disclose both the committee members and public office holders who attended the committee meeting.  If in-house lobbyists also attended the committee meeting, they should also be disclosed in the committee section.

Updating Changes to Information

Any change to the information in the lobbyist registration or the subject matter registration must be submitted within three business days of the registrant acquiring knowledge of the change of information.

Lobbying Activity Ends

Registrants must also update their registration within two business days of the termination of their lobbying activity.

For help on how to complete a registration as a lobbyist and/or how to update a lobbyist/subject matter registration, please watch our tutorial videos on the page discussing how to Register as a Lobbyist.

SANCTIONS FOR LOBBYING WITHOUT BEING PROPERLY REGISTERED

Lobbying a public office holder without being properly registered, in contravention of the Lobbying By-law, is a Provincial Offence for which a person is liable on conviction to a fine of $25,000 to $100,000.

The Lobbyist Registrar may also ban a lobbyist from communicating with public office holders or impose conditions for registration for a lobbyist found not to comply with the requirements of the Lobbying By-law.  For more information please read the Interpretation Bulletins above on “Imposing Conditions for Registration – Procedures” and “Imposing Temporary Bans on Lobbyists – Procedures.”

RELATED REPORTS TO COUNCIL

IMPORTANT NOTE: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.


[1] Who is a public office holder?

[2] Read Interpretation Bulletin below on “What is Lobbying?”

[3] Read Interpretation Bulletin below on “Types of Lobbyists.”

April 20, 2018

What is TABIA?

The Boards of Management of Toronto Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) are members of an umbrella organization called the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA).  While TABIA comprises BIA Boards of Management and represents the BIA Boards, TABIA is a separate, not-for-profit umbrella organization.  Read our Interpretation Bulletin on BIAs on this page.

TABIA is not a Local Board of the City

The City of Toronto Act, 2006 defines the Boards of Management of BIAs as local boards (restricted definition) for the purposes of the Lobbyist Registry.  However, TABIA is not a local board of the City.  TABIA and its board members, officers and employees are not public office holders for the purpose of the Lobbying By-law.

No Requirement to Register to Communicate with TABIA

There is no lobbyist registration requirement for anyone who communicates with TABIA and its board members, officers and employees.

No Requirement to Register for TABIA Members to Communicate with the City

TABIA is listed as an exempt body in Schedule A of the Lobbying By-law.  As a result, TABIA and its board members, officers and employees when acting in their official capacity do not have to register when communicating with BIA Boards or other City public office holders.  This includes communication with Members of Council and their staff, employees of the City, and members and employees of other local boards (restricted definition).

IMPORTANT NOTE: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

February 13, 2017

The purpose of this interpretation bulletin is to provide guidance on the three different types of lobbyists in the Lobbying By-law, Chapter 140 of the Toronto Municipal Code.

“LOBBYIST” is defined in s. 140-1 as:

  1. A consultant lobbyist as defined in s. 140-11.
  2. An in-house lobbyist as defined in s. 140-20.
  3. A voluntary unpaid lobbyist as defined in s. 140-27.

Consultant Lobbyist (ss. 140-11 and 140-12)

You are a “Consultant Lobbyist” if you are an individual who undertakes to lobby for payment on behalf of a client.  The client may be an individual, corporation or other person, or a partnership or organization.

The following individuals are excluded from the definition of consultant lobbyist under s. 140-12:

  1. An individual who provides translation services for payment;
  2. An individual who for payment accompanies an applicant or an applicant’s representative, or both, to a meeting on the application with a public office holder, or participates electronically in the meeting, if:
    • The application is for a service, grant, planning approval, permit or other licence or permission; and
    • The individual provides technical or other background information on the application, but does not promote the merits of the application or advocate approval of the application.

In-House Lobbyist (s. 140-20)

You are an “In-House Lobbyist” if you are an individual who is:

  1. Employed by an individual, corporation, organization or other person, or a partnership, a part of whose duties as an employee is to lobby on behalf of the employer or, if the employer is a corporation, on behalf of any subsidiary of the employer or any corporation of which the employer is a subsidiary.

Note:  “Employee” includes an officer who is compensated for the performance of his or her duties.  A director, who is not a paid officer, is not an in-house lobbyist, but may be a voluntary unpaid lobbyist.  See Note under s. 140-27B.

  1. The sole proprietor of a business, when lobbying on behalf of that business.
  2. A partner in a business, when lobbying on behalf of the partnership.

The senior officer is responsible for filing returns of an individual, corporation or other person, or a partnership, with the Registrar.  In the case of an organization, the most senior officer or staff person of the organization who is compensated for the performance of his or her duties is the one responsible to file returns with the Registrar.

Voluntary Unpaid Lobbyist (s. 140-27)

“Voluntary Unpaid Lobbyist” is defined by s. 140-27 as:

  1. An individual, corporation, organization or other person, or a partnership, who or that, without payment, lobbies or causes an employee to lobby on behalf of or for the benefit of the interests of a for-profit entity or organization (restricted definition).

Note:  An organization (restricted definition) is defined in s. 140-1 as an organization that is related to professions, labour groups, business, industry or for-profit entities as defined in s. 140-27.

  1. A director of a for-profit entity or organization (restricted definition), who is not an in-house lobbyist as defined in s. 140-20, when he, she or it lobbies or causes an employee to lobby a public office holder on behalf of, or for benefit of the interests of, the for-profit entity or organization(restricted definition).

Note:  A director, whether paid or unpaid, who is not an officer is a voluntary unpaid lobbyist under s. 140-27B.

  1. A shareholder of a for-profit entity, when he, she or it lobbies or causes an employee to lobby a public office holder on behalf of, or for benefit of the interests of, the for-profit entity.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor. 

April 24, 2015

Introduction

This interpretation bulletin discusses the information that a consultant lobbyist must provide about his or her client.  Ensuring transparency is the purpose for requiring consultant lobbyists to provide client information in their return.  The public and public office holders should know on whose behalf the consultant lobbyist is attempting to influence City government.

Section 140-15 of the Lobbying By-law requires a consultant lobbyist to provide information regarding their client(s).  Section140-45H requires a consultant lobbyist to disclose the name and business address of any person with significant control of a client.  Section 140-45H is a new requirement, effective May 5, 2016.

This Interpretation Bulletin replaces the Interpretation Bulletin, Registration of Clients of Consultant Lobbyists (March 3, 2013).  See also the Interpretation Bulletin below entitled “When Must a Client of a Consultant Lobbyist Register?”

What information must the consultant lobbyist provide about the client?

Section 140-15 requires the consultant lobbyist to set out in the return the following information about the client:

B.  The name and business address of the client and the name and business address of any person, partnership or organization that, to the knowledge of the consultant lobbyist, controls or directs the activities of the client and has a direct interest in the outcome of the consultant lobbyist’s activities on behalf of the client.

C.  If the client is a corporation, the name and business address of each subsidiary of the corporation that, to the knowledge of the consultant lobbyist, has a direct interest in the outcome of the consultant lobbyist’s activities on behalf of the client.

D.  If the client is a corporation that is a subsidiary of any other corporation, the name and business address of that other corporation.

E.  If the client is a coalition, the name and business address of each partnership, corporation or organization that is a member of the coalition.

F.  If, during the client’s fiscal year preceding the registration, or if no fiscal year applies, the calendar year preceding the registration, the client received funding from a government or government agency, the name of the government or government agency and the ministry, department, or program, as the case may be, that provided the funding.

G. If, to the knowledge of the consultant lobbyist, during the client’s fiscal year preceding the registration, or if no fiscal year applies, the calendar year preceding the registration, the client received a contribution of $750 or more to the consultant lobbyist’s activities on behalf of the client:

(1)  In the case of a contribution from an entity or organization that is not a government or government agency, the name of the entity or organization, the name of the contact person and the telephone number of the entity or organization;

(2)  In the case of a contribution from an individual, the name and telephone number of the individual; and

(3)  If, to the knowledge of the consultant lobbyist the contribution was made by a party described in Subsection G(1) or (2), on behalf of another entity, organization or individual:

(a)  The name of the other entity or organization, the name of the contact person and the telephone number of the entity or organization; and

(b)  The name and telephone number of the other individual.

H.  The name and business address of any person with significant control of a client.  [New, effective May 5, 2016]

“PERSON WITH SIGNIFICANT CONTROL” is defined by s. 140-1 as:

A.  Any person who holds, directly or indirectly, 25 percent or more of the shares of a corporation, partnership, coalition or organization;

B.  Any person who holds, directly or indirectly, 25 percent or more of the voting rights of a corporation, partnership, coalition or organization;

C.  Any person who holds the right, directly or indirectly, to appoint or remove a majority of the board of directors of a corporation, partnership, coalition or organization;

D.  Any person who has the right to exercise or actually exercises significant influence or control of a corporation, partnership, coalition or organization;

E.  Any person who is a trustee of a trust that holds, directly or indirectly, 25 percent or more of the shares of a corporation, partnership, coalition or organization;

F.  Any person who is a trustee of a trust that holds, directly or indirectly, 25 percent or more of the voting rights of a corporation, partnership, coalition or organization;

G. Any person who is a trustee of a trust that has the right to exercise or actually exercises significant influence or control of a corporation, partnership, coalition or organization; or

H.  Any person who has the right to exercise, or actually exercises, significant influence or control over the activities of a trust that meets any of the requirements of subsections E to G.

Definitions: Coalition, Organization, Partnership, Person, Subsidiary Corporation

The Office of the Lobbyist Registrar interprets “coalition” to mean a group or alliance of individuals or entities, including corporations and organizations, formed with a common purpose or for common action.

“ORGANIZATION” is defined by s. 140-1 as follows:

A.  A government, other than the City.

B.  An organization related to professions, labour groups, business, industry or for-profit entities as defined in s. 140-27.

C.  A not-for-profit organization that is not included in Subsection B.

The Office of the Lobbyist Registrar interprets “partnership” to mean a joint business conducted by a pair or group of partners.

The Office of the Lobbyist Registrar interprets “person” to mean an individual or a corporation or other entity recognized in law as a “person”.

“Subsidiary corporation” is defined by s. 140-2 as follows:

For the purposes of this chapter, a corporation is a subsidiary of another corporation if:

A.  Securities of the corporation, to which are attached more than 50 percent of the votes that may be cast to elect directors of the corporation, are held, otherwise than by way of security only, directly or indirectly, whether through one or more subsidiaries or otherwise, by or for the benefit of the other corporation; and

B.  The votes attached to those securities are sufficient, if exercised, to elect a majority of the directors of the corporation.

What must the consultant lobbyist tell the client about the Lobbying By-law?

The consultant lobbyist must inform the client of the client’s obligations under the Lobbying By-law.  The Lobbying By-law s. 140-43A provides:

A.  Lobbyists shall inform their client, employer or organization of the obligations under this chapter.

Consultant lobbyists must inform the client of:

  • The client’s obligation to register and report their lobbying activities;
  • The obligation to comply with the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct; and
  • The obligation to provide information required by s. 140-15.

Consultant lobbyists are expected to take reasonable steps to obtain the required information about their clients.  The Office of the Lobbyist Registrar requires this information before approving a registration.  A consultant lobbyist’s failure to disclose required information about the client may be found to be a breach of Chapter 140.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

May 13, 2016

This interpretation bulletin provides guidance on what constitutes lobbying for the purposes of Chapter 140 of the Toronto Municipal Code (the Lobbying By-law).

“LOBBY”

Generally, s. 140-1 defines “lobby” as communication by a lobbyist with a public office holder about subject matters that are the subject of City government decisions.

A.    Development, introduction, passage, defeat, amendment or repeal of a by‑law, bill or resolution on any matter, by Council, a local board (restricted definition), the Board of Health, or a committee, another body or individual under delegated authority.

Subject matters that fall within the definition of “lobby” include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Development, approval, amendment or termination of a policy, program, directive or guideline.
  2. Procurement of goods, services or construction and awarding a contract.
  3. Approving, approving with conditions, or denying an application for a service, grant, planning approval, permit or other licence or permission.
  4. Awarding any financial contribution, grant or other financial benefit by or on behalf of the City, a local board (restricted definition) or the Board of Health.
  5. Transferring from the City, a local board (restricted definition) or the Board of Health any interest in or asset of any business, enterprise or institution.
  6. Determining the model and method of delivering a service.

The definition of “lobby” applies with necessary modifications to matters considered by a local board (restricted definition), the Board of Health or another body or individual under delegated authority.

The definition of “lobby” also includes the arrangement of a meeting by a consultant lobbyist or voluntary unpaid lobbyist with a public office holder and any other person.

“COMMUNICATION”

Section 140-1 defines “communication” as any form of expressive contact, and includes oral, written or electronic communication.  Another form of communication is “grass-roots communication”, which is defined as an appeal to members of the public through the mass media or by direct communication that seeks to persuade members of the public, members of an organization or a special interest group or who have a common or shared interest in a subject matter, to communicate directly with a public office holder in an attempt to place pressure on the public office holder to endorse a particular opinion.  Please read more information in the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar (OLR) Interpretation Bulletin above entitled “Grass-roots Campaigns”.

Certain communications are exempted from the Lobbying By-law, s. 140-5.  Some of these exemptions are addressed in the OLR Interpretation Bulletin above entitled “Exempt Communications”.

“LOBBYIST”

“Lobbyist” is defined in s. 140-1 as including consultant, in-house and voluntary unpaid lobbyists.  For more information, see the OLR Interpretation Bulletin above entitled “Types of Lobbyists”.

“PUBLIC OFFICE HOLDER”

“Public office holder” is defined in s. 140-1 as:

  1. The same meaning as a public office holder as defined in section 156 of the City of Toronto Act, 2006.
  2. A member of the Board of Health.
  3. Individuals appointed by Council, a Standing Committee or a Community Council under delegated authority, or a local board (restricted definition) to an advisory body to provide advice to Council, the Standing Committee, the Community Council or the local board (restricted definition) or to employees of the City or local board (restricted definition).

The City of Toronto Act, 2006, s. 156 defines a public office holder as:

  1. a member of city council and any person on his or her staff,
  2. an officer or employee of the City,
  3. a member of a local board (restricted definition) of the City and any person on his or her staff,
  4. an officer, director or employee of a local board (restricted definition) of the City, and
  5. such other persons as may be determined by city council who are appointed to any office or body by city council or by a local board (restricted definition) of the City.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

November 9, 2015

Introduction

Clients of consultant lobbyists must also register themselves before they lobby public office holders or conduct a grass-roots campaign.  If required to register, clients must report their lobbying activities and comply with the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct and other requirements of the Lobbying By‑law (By-law).

When must the client register?

A client who attends a meeting or teleconference with his or her consultant lobbyist and a public office holder is required to register.  Another example would be a client and his or her consultant lobbyist sending a joint communication to a public office holder.

If required to register, the client must register before lobbying any public office holders.  In all cases, the client must report the communication on the registry within three business days of the communication.  See Interpretation Bulletin, Pre-Registration and Post-Registration Requirements.

A client must register if the client is a “lobbyist” and intends to communicate about a subject matter that is defined as “lobbying” and no exemptions apply (see below regarding exemptions).

When does the client not need to register?

A client does not need to register in the following circumstances:

  • The client does not intend to communicate with public office holders or conduct a grass-roots campaign.
  • The client is exempt from the By‑law. For example, the By‑law does not apply to not-for-profit organizations, subject to certain exceptions; quasi-governmental organizations; public office holders and members of other levels of government.  See ss. 140-3, 140-4 and Interpretation Bulletins: Types of Lobbyists and Not-for-profit Organizations.
  • The communication is exempt from the By-law. Examples of exempt communications include: communication with City staff about an application for a licence or permit or when making a deputation to a committee of Council; a ward constituent communication with a councillor about a general neighbourhood or public policy issue that is not for the special benefit of the constituent.  See ss. 140-5, 140-6 and Interpretation Bulletin, Exempt Communications.

 

What does the consultant lobbyist need to tell the client?

The consultant lobbyist must inform the client of the client’s obligation to register.  The By-law s. 140-43A provides:

  1. Lobbyists shall inform their client, employer or organization of the obligations under this chapter.

For more information, see Interpretation Bulletin, What Information Must a Consultant Lobbyist Provide About the Client?

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice.  For more information, please contact the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar by email at lobbyistregistrar@toronto.ca or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.

March 27, 2017