Burlington among few municipalities in province to adopt registry for city lobbyists

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Published October 7, 2021 at 3:07 pm

Thanks to an initial push by Ward 2 councillor Lisa Kearns, Burlington will soon be one of the few municipalities in the province with a lobbyist registry.

“People have the right to know who their councillors and talking to and this opens the door on transparency,” said Kearns about the legislation, which will be formally adopted at the next city council meeting.

There will now be a voluntary registration process for paid consultants whose job it is to sway councillors to the specific side of an issue.

According to Kearns, at least in Burlington, one type of lobbyist has been most prevalent in her office.

“It’s mostly developers, at least according to the registry our office kept.”

It was that registry that led Kearns to believe it should be expanded to the entire city.

Everyone is quick to point out that lobbying is a legitimate part of the democratic process, and one wants to demonize it.

However, according to the city, the benefits of lobbying are lost when they take place behind closed doors. The nature of lobbying is representing a business or financial interest with the goal to trying to influence legislative action.

Kearns said staff will gather information on the new process and prepare a report that will come back to councillors in the first quarter of 2023.

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