November 25, 2019

Saskatchewan Strengthens Lobbyist And Conflict Of Interest Legislation

The Government of Saskatchewan has introduced amendments to The Lobbyists Act and The Members’ Conflict of Interest Act to promote transparency and enhance accountability among provincially-elected officials.

“It is important for people to have confidence in government,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan said.  “This legislation will ensure the public knows who is lobbying and who plans to lobby elected officials in Saskatchewan and provide sensible guidelines for elected officials to follow regarding conflicts of interest.”

The Lobbyists Act applies to individuals who are paid to lobby by a client (a consultant lobbyist) and organizations with employees whose duties include lobbying on their behalf (an in-house lobbyist).  The Members’ Conflict of Interest Act applies to members of the Legislative Assembly and members of Executive Council.

The proposed amendments to The Lobbyist Act make the following changes:

  • Create a new provision prohibiting in-house lobbyists or consultant lobbyists from providing gifts, favours or other benefits to public office holders.
  • Require non-profit organizations, without a charitable mandate, to register any in-house lobbyists.  There will be an exception for non-profit charitable organizations with less than five employees who spend a total of less than 30 hours annually lobbying.
  • Reduce the threshold for registration as an in-house lobbyist from 100 hours to 30 hours.

The proposed amendments to The Members’ Conflict of Interest Act make the following changes:

  • Require that a description of the assets of a private company in which members have a controlling interest be included in the disclosure statement and the public disclosure statement.
  • Require former members to file a disclosure statement within 60 days of ceasing to be a member.
  • Allow a former member to request an opinion or recommendation from the Commissioner on his or her obligations under the Act for 12 months after he or she ceases to be a member.
  • Add a definition of “gift or personal benefit.”

These changes are based on recommendations made by Conflict of Interest Commissioner and Registrar of Lobbyists Ron Barclay.