Who should be lobbying governments?

Who should be able to lobby governments?
A large question looms in front of parliamentarians in Ottawa this week, and will continue to haunt them long after the Rahim Jaffer affair becomes a distant memory.
In 2004, there were 3,200 registered lobbyists in Canada.
The first federal legislation was passed in 1989 (Lobbyist Registration Act) and amended in 1995. It set out the requirements of who must register with the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada.
Since the federal legislation was passed, Ontario, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, and Quebec have passed similar legislation.
The Federal Accountability Act (2006) placed a five-year ban on lobbying by former cabinet ministers, ministry staffers, and senior public servants.
It is possible the former MP should not have directly sought out cabinet members to pitch projects. And even though no money appears to have been awarded for those projects, the cabinet members he approached normally would have known in advance the purpose of Jaffer’s visit to their office or the purpose of meetings they would have with him.
Just meeting with the former MP to hear pitches for projects placed cabinet ministers in an uncomfortable position.
Of course, nothing prevented those same MPs from working as consultants for business and individuals to advise on the best avenues for talking to government officials and MPs with regard to legislation or programs.
It is a natural extension to use the experience and knowledge gained as a sitting legislator to facilitate contacts.
It begs the question: should former legislative people have the right to advise clients on how to make contacts with the government? Should they be able to pass their knowledge to others to make working with the government easier?
But in our system, any citizen from Canada can make appointments to see any sitting member of Parliament and bend their ears for projects and legislative change. It is part of our system that guarantees access to our politicians.
Should former parliamentary colleagues not be able to meet with one another?
Last year, members of Fort Frances council successfully made their case to provincial government officials for funding from the stimulus budget of both the province and federal government for the new public library, infrastructure, and other local projects.
Yes, there was lobbying involved by our municipally-elected government and municipal employees.
At the municipal level, lobbying probably wold involve taxes, fences, or services.
At the provincial level, we witnessed the about-face of the McGuinty government on sex education following aggressive lobbying to prevent change by various groups.
At the national level, we have seen lobbying of government with regards to the nation’s involvement in peacekeeping and Afghanistan. We have seen lobbying for improving Canada’s record on environmental issue.
It may be as simple as getting a certificate recognizing a person reaching 100 years of age.
Citizens do have the right to be heard and do have the right to lobby government.
A big issue locally is the lobby to do away with the long gun registry. Many individuals have spoken directly with former MPs Bob Nault and Ken Boshcoff, and now with John Rafferty, to have the legislation repealed.
More powerful groups have hired lobbyists to keep the current legislation in place.

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