Ottawa – City Council today approved creation of a new Lobbyist Registry and establishment of an Integrity Commissioner to oversee the registry and to assist in the establishment of a Code of Conduct, Expense Policy and Gifts Registry for Members of Council.

These initiatives are key elements in governance renewal at City Hall intended to make municipal government more transparent and accountable.

“In the 2010 election, I made a commitment to the people of Ottawa that we would bring greater openness and transparency to City Hall,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “All of these measures are part of an overall, balanced package that moves us towards that goal and brings more clarity to what we do.”

The new Lobbyist Registry institutes a number of steps to ensure:

 – Clear definitions and distinctions between lobbying activities and advocacy work.

 – Recognition that lobbying can be any form of substantive communication in a formal or informal setting.

 – Advocacy activities by not-for-profit groups would not need to be registered, unless they have paid staff.

The new Integrity Commissioner will be independent and impartial and will report to Council on advice relating to the Code of Conduct and other rules related to ethics. The Integrity Commissioner will assist members of Council on best practices and ethical considerations and will also act as the City’s Meetings Investigator and Lobbyist Registrar. Reports will be public and the Integrity Commissioner will have the power to recommend sanctions.

“The Integrity Commissioner will be there to assist us to give us an unbiased, objective opinion without fear or favour,” said Mayor Watson. “This will allow Councillors to seek advice whenever in doubt.”

Creation of the Lobbyist Registry and establishment of the Integrity Commissioner are effective September 1, 2012.