BC companies need lobbying exemption, chambers say

Arguing that the lobbying rules make their advocacy work on behalf of the business community nearly impossible, a group of chambers and chambers of commerce are pushing the province for an exemption.

The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce is among a group of chambers urging the Ministry of the Attorney General to exempt them from British Columbia’s Lobbyists Transparency Act, which among other things requires lobbyists to file a monthly their lobbying activities.

“Our mandate is to give businesses a voice. In healthy communities, the public and private sectors co-exist in a balance that creates jobs and healthy economies and enables sound policies,” said Bruce Williams, Chief Executive of the Greater Victoria Chamber. “It’s not new, but it’s threatened by onerous requirements that miss the mark. We are jeopardizing historic relations with this paternalistic bureaucracy that effectively censors important conversations.

The province’s Lobbyists Act came into effect in the spring of 2020 with amendments aimed at increasing lobbying transparency. Organizations that communicate with government officials are now subject to fines of up to $25,000 and a ban on lobbying for up to two years if they violate any of the rules.

According to a letter written to Attorney General David Eby, the chambers are asking for several changes to the law.

Included in their request defines small organizations as those with less than 25 employees, granting a full exemption to all small organizations, streamlining the lobbying reporting process and requiring only the registration of an actual act of lobbying – a letter, meeting, or policy decision – in the end, raise the 50-hour threshold to 200 hours for charities and nonprofits, and eliminate the requirement entirely for chambers of commerce and chambers of commerce.

“This is yet another request to the BC government from the Board of Trade/Chamber of Commerce to remove the bureaucracy from the Lobbyist Transparency Act, which makes our job nearly impossible,” said said Anita Huberman, chief executive of Surrey council. Trade.

“The mandate and purpose of Chambers of Commerce and Chambers of Commerce is to influence change at all levels of government. As we have ongoing, sometimes daily, conversations with political representatives to help businesses, the reporting burden with the new lobbying rules increases our administrative burden.

The group also noted that smaller chambers lack the capacity to take on the additional administrative burden, and the new rules are causing some groups to reconsider whether to even reach out to elected officials.

In a statement to Times Colonistthe Ministry of the Attorney General has acknowledged receipt of the letter and will review the concerns.

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