Niagara Region launches lobbyist registry to increase transparency and accountability
As part of a commitment to increase transparency and enhance the public’s trust in Regional government, Council has launched a lobbyist registry to track all lobbying activities directed towards members of council and staff.
The publicly accessible and searchable registry can be found on the Region’s website and is designed to meet the requirements of Niagara’s lobbyist registration by-law. Penalties under the new lobbyist registry by-law will be enforced by the Region’s lobbyist registrar.
Under Niagara Region’s Lobbyist Registration By-law, lobbyists are required to register themselves as a lobbyist and submit the subject matter they discussed with both members of Regional Council and staff. Lobbyists are required to register their lobbying activity within five business days of their interaction.
While Regional Council acknowledges that lobbying is a legitimate activity that can bring with it public benefit, members also recognize that the public should have full awareness of who is advocating to the Region and what topics are being discussed. Having a mandatory lobbyist registry will help to ensure these interactions are being tracked with integrity, and the public will have a better understanding about how decisions are being made.
As per the Region’s by-law, lobbying can be defined as any communication that attempts to influence the Region’s business or operations, including policy, financial or legislative decisions. Lobbying can take many forms, including phone calls, emails, in-person meetings, text message or social media interactions. Registering as a lobbyist with the Niagara Region carries no fee.
Niagara Region’s lobbyist registry was created under the authority of section 239.9 of the Municipal Act, 2001. As part of the launch of the new registry, there is a six-month education period where no penalties will be administered for failing to register an instance of lobbying.
"The creation of a mandatory lobbyist registry is another example of this term of Council’s commitment to transparency and accountability. As a key supporter of this registry, the goal is not to limit public discourse or access to elected officials, but rather to be as open as possible in regard to our decision-making process. This registry will be one of the lasting legacies of our time in office and a measureable demonstration of how this term of council is working as a team to help restore the public’s trust in Regional government."
~ Jim Bradley, Regional Chair
"As the council member who brought the concept of the lobbyist registry forward, I am pleased to see that our registry officially launched. With the implementation of this registry, we join a growing list of progressive communities such as Toronto, Collingwood, Ottawa and Hamilton and the Region of Peel who are demonstrating to their constituents that they are committed to openness and accountability. I believe the public has a right to know how decisions are made and this registry is an important step to ensuring more fulsome transparency with the public."
~ Regional Councillor Laura Ip
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