An administrative report recommending the establishment of Winnipeg’s first lobbyist registry will be considered by Executive Policy Committee next week, Mayor Brian Bowman announced today.

“Lobbyist registries are an accountability tool used across Canada at federal, provincial, and municipal levels to encourage openness and transparency,” said Mayor Bowman. “It is important members of the public are able to see who is attempting to influence government decision makers and the reasons behind their efforts, and a tool like a lobbyist registry has been missing from Winnipeg’s City Hall for too long.”

The administrative report recommends a simplified and streamlined lobbyist registry that falls within the City of Winnipeg’s existing legislative authority. It is also recommending the newly appointed Integrity Commissioner be designated the registrar for the new registry, and that she be responsible for reviewing future changes to the registry process including any consequential changes to The City of Winnipeg Charter.

The report recommends the lobbyist registry be voluntary, that there be no cost to register as a lobbyist, and that the City Clerk’s department administer the registry within existing resources.

The report recommends a simplified definition of lobbyist. It recommends that any individual representing a financial or business interest, or the financial interest of a not-for-profit with paid staff, who communicates outside of standard city process with a councillor or city staff to try and influence a decision on governmental matters be considered a lobbyist, and that they be required to register their lobbying activity within ten days of the interaction.

Individual citizens who engage with councillors or communicate with City of Winnipeg officials through an established process or an open civic forum are not considered lobbyists, and individuals acting in their official capacity as a government or public sector official are also not considered lobbyists.

“These types of registries can help build a more open, transparent, and accountable government,” said Mayor Bowman. “But at the same time, we want to ensure it does not restrict individual residents from engaging with councillors and city staff on any service issues they may encounter.”

Currently, The City of Winnipeg Charter does not provide for powers to investigate or the ability to levy and enforce fines or other penalties should a lobbyist not register their activity.

The administrative report recommends that the Integrity Commissioner, within its future mandate, further investigate and determine what consequential amendments to The City of Winnipeg Charter might be required in order to provide enforcement measures, investigation powers, and sanctions or penalties for non-compliance.

In December 2016, in response to a motion from Mayor Bowman, Executive Policy Committee directed the City Clerk’s Department to prepare a report for the consideration of Council detailing an immediate implementation plan for a lobbyist registry. It also recommended that consideration be given to recommendations previously made by the city auditor.

The city auditor’s May 2015 “Report on the Creation of a Lobbyist Registry” provided a number of recommendations with respect to establishing a lobbyist registry, many of which form the basis for the initial implementation of a lobbyist registry.
“Just as we did with the Integrity Commissioner, we are moving forward and establishing a lobbyist registry within the city’s existing legislative authority and by doing so we are changing City Hall for the better,” said Mayor Bowman. “We cannot afford to move backward, allowing old-school politics back into City Hall. A lobbyist registry will help move us forward by ensuring the public gets to see who is trying to influence government decision making and why.”