More evidence to the contrary

The Campbell administration may continue to boast it's the most open and accountable government in Canada. But, just east of the Rocky Mountains, the Stelmach administration is putting in place a lobbyist registry with much sharper teeth than British Columbia counterpart. Under legislation passed last week, Alberta's lobbyist registrar has the power to conduct investigations "necessary to ensure compliance" with that act. And, during the course of such investigations, he'll be able to "summmon and enforce the attendance of individuals" and compel them to "produce any document" or "give oral or written evidence under oath." By comparison, British Columbia's registrar has no such investigative authority.

The penalties for violating Alberta's lobbyist laws will also be stiffer, with offenders facing fines of up to $100,000 and the possibility of being suspended from government relations work for two years. Here in British Columbia the maximum fine is $25,000. And the Stelmach administration will be publishing an online searchable index of all government contracts, which will be updated on a quarterly basis. So who's the most open and accountable government now?

6 Comments

It is fairly common for any region bringing in new legislation to look at similar legislation in other areas and see how to improve upon it. It looks like the province of Alberta has done that here.

As compared to what, Larsen? A government that can see the deficiency in its legislation and fail to act? God help us if Gordo actually wanted to "improve" anything. It might bite back at his friends and former colleagues, eh.

It’s all a question of priorities Munroe and given the recent trend of the Legislature sitting for fixed dates and now on a set time schedule during these fixed dates a whole lot less legislation makes its way through the house as a result.

I have yet to hear the NDP bitch about the fixed dates and have not heard much squawking about the set time frame either and given that house sittings are their major chance to make political hay, that is disappointing.

The NDP must need the extra time to sort out all of their charitable donations.

At least they aren't pocketing the windfall while denying B.C.'s lowest paid a reasonable raise. However, Larsen we do agree one one thing - not much of any good is happening in the legislature.

Kevin, really! I know you're a down the line Gordo man, and that's OKay. We need people like you to watch over him and keep him safe, for example, when he's driving home. But how on earth does the fixed dates for House sittings have anything to do with the differences between lobbyist legislation in BC and Alberta? Can you please explain this for me?

And you know, I have to admit to knowing next to nothing about lobbyist legislation since I am not an up and coming go-getter in Victoria or Ottawa who is going to have to register. However, I do know that the federal law requires rank and file public servants to report on any dealings or representations they have received from lobbyists, providing a check on what the lobbyists choose to report. Is this a feature of the BC legislation?

And finally, you state that Alberta's new law is based on "similar legislation in other areas". What other jurisdictions did Alberta draw its inspiration from? Did they receive any useful pointers from The Best Place on Earth?

Budd,

In the old days as you likely know the house sittings would often be extended allowing the government more time to bring in additional legislation; if desired. Even the house sittings themselves would often run into the wee hours of the night; once again allowing for more legislation to go through the house.

The new fixed dates for sittings and more recently introduced fixed daily ending times means ultimately that there is less time available for bills to make their way through the house; thus fewer bills go through the house as well. Thus if the Liberals were to introduce a new bill to enhance the lobbyist registry odds are it would get trumped by a bill that would be considered more important as there is simply less time available compared to what there used to be.

I was also commenting that it is sad that the NDP have gone along with this reduced schedule without any protest.

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