Register a Complaint about Lobbyists
The Toronto Lobbyist Registrar tracks lobbying activities and regulates lobbyists’ conduct.
We accept confidential inquires regarding allegations of potential breaches of the By-law.
To submit an inquiry regarding a potential breach of the By-law please send all information to LobbyistRegistrarInquiry@toronto.ca
Enforcement of the Lobbying By-law – Interpretation Bulletin, December 6, 2016
IMPORTANT NOTE: This Interpretation Bulletin provides information only and does not constitute legal advice. For more information, please contact the Toronto Lobbyist Registrar by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-338-5858 to speak to a Lobbyist Registry Advisor.
The Toronto Lobbyist Registrars 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.
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.
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 below
Revised on March 27, 2013
- Definitions. In these procedures:
- The definitions set out in s. 140-1 of the Toronto Municipal Code, Lobbying (the Lobbying By-law) and ss. 33 and 34 of the Public Inquiries Act, 2009 apply.
- “Inquiry” includes a determination, examination, hearing, inquiry, investigation, review or other activity to which s. 33 or s. 34 of the Public Inquiries Act, 2009 applies.
- “Requester” is defined as City Council, a member of Council or a member of the public who makes a request for an inquiry about compliance with the registry system or Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct.
- “Respondent” is an individual or organization who is the subject of a request about compliance with the registry system or Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct.
- “Registrar” includes any person to whom the Registrar has delegated her powers and duties in accordance with the City of Toronto, 2006, s. 168(3).
- A request for an inquiry about compliance with the registry system or Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct may be made by City Council, a member of Council or a member of the public, including the Registrar.
- The Registrar may initiate an inquiry based upon:
(a) The information in the registry system and the recommendation of the Registrar’s staff; or
(b) Information received from a member of the public, a member of Council or City Council.
- The Registrar may accept an anonymous request, if there are sufficient grounds to give the Registrar reason to believe that a breach of the Lobbying By-law has taken place.
- Information in request.
- A request about compliance with the system of registration for lobbyists or the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct, as set out in this chapter, from a member of Council or the public shall be made in writing to the Registrar.
- The request shall include the information and documents relevant to the request and any forms, including an affidavit, that the Registrar may require for this purpose.
- The requester shall provide additional information and documentation as required by the Registrar.
The Registrar conducts inquiries into matters relating to compliance with the registry and the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct in private, unless:
- The law, including this chapter, the City of Toronto Act, 2006 and the Public Inquiries Act, 2009 requires or permits disclosure of information; or
- The Registrar deems it necessary to disclose information in order to further the inquiry into the matter.
- Refusal to inquire.
The Registrar may refuse to inquire into a request where, in the Registrar’s opinion, one or more of the following circumstances exist:
- The request does not pertain to compliance with the system of registration or with the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct or is otherwise outside the jurisdiction of the Registrar.
- The subject matter of the request is trivial, frivolous or vexatious.
- There are other adequate remedies available to the requester under the law or existing administrative practices that would more appropriately resolve the request, other than the laying of information for an offence under the Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 140.
- In all the circumstances of the case, an inquiry is not necessary.
- Dealing with the matter would serve no useful purpose because of the length of time that has elapsed since the matter arose.
- Criminal allegations.
If, on its face, the request concerns an allegation of a criminal nature consistent with the Criminal Code of Canada or an offence under any other Act, the requester shall be advised that if the requester wishes to pursue the allegation, the requester must pursue it with the appropriate police force or other authority.
- Suspension and referral to appropriate authorities.
As required by section 169(7) of the City of Toronto Act, 2006, if at any time during the inquiry the Registrar determines that there are reasonable grounds to believe that there has been a contravention of any other Act or of the Criminal Code of Canada, the Registrar shall immediately refer the matter to the appropriate authorities and suspend the inquiry until any resulting police investigation and charge have been finally disposed of, and shall report the suspension to City Council.
- Notice of Inquiry.
- If the Registrar decides to conduct an inquiry, the Registrar shall inform the respondent of the substance of the allegations and provide an opportunity to the respondent to respond to the allegations.
- If the Registrar agrees to accept an anonymous request, the information disclosed shall be revised to the extent necessary to preserve anonymity.
- The respondent shall be notified if the Registrar elects to exercise powers under s. 33 or s. 34 of the Public Inquiries Act, 2009.
- The Registrar may conduct an inquiry in such a manner and to such an extent as in her opinion is necessary to determine whether there has been compliance with the registration system and the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct.
- The Registrar may speak to anyone who has information relevant to the request and request further information from the requester, the respondent(s) or from anyone who may have information relevant to the request.
- Under subsection 169(2) of the City of Toronto Act, 2006, in conducting an inquiry, the Registrar may exercise the powers under s. 33 or s. 34 of the Public Inquiries Act, 2009 in which case those sections apply to the inquiry.
- Notice of proposed findings.
Upon completion of an inquiry and prior to making a final report, the Registrar may provide the proposed findings and sanctions to the respondent, together with an opportunity to respond either in person or in writing on the proposed findings and any recommended sanctions.
- Report to Council.
- The Registrar may in her discretion report on an inquiry to City Council.
- The Registrar may disclose in the report to Council such matters as in the Registrar’s opinion are necessary for the purposes of the report.
- The Registrar’s final report shall contain all findings, decisions, orders and recommendations made by the Registrar in relation to the inquiry, together with reasons.
- In the final report, the Registrar may make any or all of the following orders:
(1) Refusing to register a return;
(2) Suspending or revoking a registration; or
(3) Removing a return from the registry.
- If as a result of the inquiry the Registrar decides to refuse to accept, suspend or revoke a return or other document under s. 140-36A or B, the Registrar shall inform the individual who submitted it of the refusal, suspension or revocation in writing with reasons, in accordance with s. 140-36C.
- The Registrar may publish any reports to City Council on the Registrar’s website.
- Despite any provision in this procedure, the Registrar may commence a prosecution under the Provincial Offences Act where the Registrar has reasonable grounds to believe that there has been a contravention of the Lobbying By-law.
- If the Registrar commences a prosecution under the Provincial Offences Act for an offence under the Lobbying By-law, the Registrar may suspend or otherwise terminate the inquiry.
- The Registrar may include information on prosecutions in the annual report to Council on the activities of the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar, subject to compliance with any confidentiality requirements.
- You will receive a response from us within three (3) business days, acknowledging receipt of your complaint and giving you a complaint number.
- We will contact you to discuss how we can best resolve your complaint.
- If we cannot help you with your complaint, we will try to refer you to someone who can help you.
- We will assess your complaint to identify the appropriate action to be taken.
- We will provide target timeframes for resolution and report to you on the progress of your complaint.
- We will treat your complaint as confidential. We may need to disclose your complaint in the following circumstances:
- We may be required by law to disclose the complaint.
- If the complaint discloses reasonable grounds to believe that a criminal offence or breach of another Act has occurred, we must refer the complaint to the appropriate authorities.
- In order, as a matter of fairness, to permit the person against whom the complaint is made, to respond.
- The complaint is conducted confidentially, as a result you will not be informed of the outcome of your complaint.