You asked, we answered: Is lobbying a legitimate practice?

There’s been a lot of talk about lobbying and the role of lobbyists in mainstream media recently. At CEPA we call this advocating, and it’s part of our role in representing Canada’s transmission pipeline companies.

This week, we’re giving you the ins and outs of how lobbying in Canada works, and how we fit into the process.

Here are the basics:

What is lobbying?

Lobbying is when individuals, companies or groups communicate with elected or appointed officials. These groups could be lobbying for a variety of reasons, including making, amending or developing federal or provincial legislative proposals and bills. It’s a legitimate activity in a democratic society and it’s governed by federal and provincial acts. The process is meant to encourage and foster open access to government – one of the key principles of democracy.

Pipelines are part of Canada’s critical infrastructure so advocating for the pipeline industry and providing input to the government is an important part of our role. We generally get involved in the process when the government approaches us to provide information when making changes to relevant legislation.

However, when talking to other stakeholders, we also exchange information. It doesn’t have an official term, but what we’re doing is engaging, communicating and sharing information to those that ask, so that they can make up their own minds and make informed decisions.

At CEPA, our member companies have given us the mandate to advocate for them. As an association, we’re proud to carry on this important task, but at the same time, we’re very careful not to speak on behalf of any one member or any one of our members’ projects. Instead, we focus on the bigger picture issues that could impact the industry as a whole. 

How is the process kept transparent?

All paid lobbyists (groups, organizations, individuals) are required to register with the federal and provincial governments. By registering, they are making their actions part of the public record. In fact, actions made by a lobbyist in Canada is searchable by the public. For example, you can search the federal registry here and Alberta’s registry here.

CEPA is a registered lobbyist organization and we follow the rules that the governments put forth regarding this important part of our business.

Are there any groups that aren’t required to register?

Yes. Some groups, including volunteers, individuals communicating on their own, and some corporations and non-profit organizations can lobby without registration. The actions of these groups are not made public, so there’s no way to track their lobbying activities.

For a more in-depth look at lobbying in Canada, check out: 

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 110,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2011, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.