A Significant Part of Duties ("The 20% Rule")

Purpose of Bulletin

This Interpretation Bulletin is issued by the Commissioner of Lobbying under the authority of subsection 10 (1) of the Lobbying Act (hereafter, "the Act"). Its purpose is to provide assistance to those responsible for filing returns for in-house lobbyists (corporations and organizations) under section 7 of the Act. The Bulletin will help those filing returns understand the Commissioner's interpretation of the phrase "a significant part of the duties" as it is used in section 7 and how that phrase may be applied in helping to fulfill the requirements for corporations and organizations to register their lobbying activities.

In-house Lobbyists (corporations and organizations)

Subsection 7(1) of the Act for in-house lobbyists (corporations and organizations) requires that the officer responsible for filing returns (the most senior paid officer of a corporation or organization) must register that corporation or organization. The officer must file a return when one or more employees communicate with public office holders on behalf of the employer, and those duties constitute a significant part of the duties of one employee or would constitute a significant part of the duties of one employee if they were performed by only one employee.

For the purpose of this interpretation bulletin, the threshold after which lobbying represents a significant part of one's duties has been established at 20% or more of overall duties.

Calculating 20% or more of duties

In the case of corporations or organizations, the officer responsible for filing the return must determine whether or not lobbying constitutes a significant part of the duties of those employees who communicate with public office holders and who are subject to the 20% rule. This can be done using various approaches. One way is to estimate the time spent preparing for communicating (researching, drafting, planning, compiling, travelling, etc) and actually communicating with public office holders. For instance, a one-hour meeting may require seven  hours of preparation and two hours of travel time. In this case, the time related to lobbying with a public office holder would be a total of 10 hours.

In situations where the time related to lobbying is difficult to estimate, the officer responsible for filing will have to estimate the relative importance of the lobbying activities by examining, for example, the various duties for which the employee is responsible and determining the proportion related to lobbying activities. Both methods may be used in conjunction if the situation is unclear. In any case, the officer responsible will be accountable for the decision as to whether or not a registration is necessary.

In order to provide a time basis for estimating the relative importance of lobbying activities, and considering that reporting requirements cover monthly periods, a period of one month should also be used. Assuming a five-day work week, an individual would have to lobby the equivalent of one day per week to reach the threshold. For instance, a requirement to register could be triggered for a corporation or an organization when the total amount of time spent lobbying by all paid employees equals 20% or more of the working hours of one employee.

Exemptions

The following are some examples of corporate/organizational activities that are exempt from the requirement to register and should not be factored into a calculation of significant part of duties:

  • communications restricted to a straightforward request for publicly available information;
  • preparation and presentation of briefings to parliamentary committees;
  • employees making submissions to federal public office holders on the employer's behalf with respect to the enforcement, interpretation or application by that official of any existing federal statute or regulation; and
  • routine dealings with government inspectors and other regulatory authorities.

For further information, please contact:

Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada
255 Albert Street
10th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R5

Telephone: 613-957-2760
Fax: 613-957-3078

E-mail: QuestionsLobbying@ocl-cal.gc.ca

Karen E. Shepherd
Commissioner of Lobbying
July 2009