Protocol on Unsolicited Written and Electronic Communications to Members of Council



This protocol, issued by the Lobbyist Registrar and Integrity Commissioner, clarifies the obligations of members of Council or their staff acting on their behalf when they receive unsolicited written or electronic communications.


Chapter 140 of the Toronto Municipal Code, Lobbying defines lobbying as communication with a public office holder about listed subjects, which generally relate to decisions that Council, its committees or other City officials may make. Communication is defined as “expressive contact, including written and electronic communication.”


Article 13 (Conduct Respecting Lobbyists) of the Code of Conduct for Members of Council provides:



13.0 A member must not:

  1. a) engage knowingly in communications in respect of the list of subject matters contained in the definition of “lobby” as set out in the City’s Lobbying By-law with a person who is not registered as required under that By-law; or,
  2. b) knowingly communicate with a registered lobbyist who is acting in violation of the City’s Lobbying By-law. (emphasis added)

13.1 If a member is or at any time becomes aware that a person is in violation of the City’s Lobbying By-law, the member must refuse to deal with the lobbyist or, where appropriate:

  1. a) terminate the communication with the lobbyist at once; or,
  2. b) if in the member’s judgment it is appropriate to continue the communication, at the end of the communication, draw that person’s attention to the obligations imposed by the City’s Lobbying By-law.

13.2 A member must report any violation or attempted violation of the City’s Lobbying By-law to the Lobbyist Registrar unless the member believes in good faith that the violation in communicating or attempting to communicate with the member was inadvertent or insignificant.



13.3 Lobbying of public office holders is a permissible but regulated activity in the City of Toronto. Lobbying is defined and regulated by the City’s Lobbying By-law.

13.4 Members and their staff are public office holders. As a matter of general principle, as public office holders, members should familiarize themselves with the terms of the City’s Lobbying By-law.


A member does not contravene this Article when a member (or the member’s staff on the member’s behalf) simply receives an unsolicited written or electronic communication. This exception applies if the member (or the member’s staff acting on the member’s behalf) does not take any action on the basis of the communication or respond to the communication.

This exception also applies if the member (or staff acting on behalf of the member) sends a form letter in response to all unsolicited communications. When this exception applies, there is no duty on the member to take further action under this Article.


Contact Information


Office of the Integrity Commissioner

City of Toronto

375 University Avenue, Suite 202

Toronto, ON M5G 2J5

(416) 392-3826


Lobbyist Registrar

City of Toronto

375 University Avenue, Suite 201

Toronto, ON M5G 2J5





Issue Date



July 19, 2023










This version updates the Article numbers to reflect the updated Code of Conduct, effective August 1, 2022.


This bulletin replaces and supersedes the protocol previously issued on May 21, 2009.