Lobbying watchdog should be able to levy fines: Commons committee

OTTAWA – A House of Commons committee says the federal lobbying watchdog should have the ability to slap fines on those who break the rules.

The recommendation comes in a report by the ethics committee, approved by the Tories, the NDP and the Liberals.

Currently, the commissioner of lobbying has the choice of two extremes for consultants who violate the Lobbying Act — she can simply try to educate them on minor slip-ups, or she can refer serious matters to the RCMP.

To date, nobody has been charged or convicted after a case has been referred to the police by the commissioner.

The committee accepted lobbying commissioner Karen Shepherd’s suggestion that a system of administrative monetary penalties be introduced as a middle ground for bringing lobbyists into line.

The committee also wants to make lobbying rules apply to more people, regardless of the percentage of time they spend lobbying officials.