News / Winnipeg

Executive policy committee lobs registry plan to council for approval

Next week council will vote on implementing a voluntary lobbyist registry that would eventually list anyone trying to influence government decision-makers.

Metro File

If the mayor gets his way, the days of privately influencing municipal officials in Winnipeg may be numbered. 

On Wednesday, council’s executive policy committee pushed Mayor Brian Bowman’s proposal for a lobbyist registry through to council for final approval.

Bowman said it was “one additional positive step forward in terms of (the city’s) efforts to have greater openness and transparency at City Hall.”

He’s been working on adding a registry to his accountability tool belt since late 2016, when he first started pitching it as a list lobbyists would sign after meeting with any city official.

Officially, the city is defining lobbyists as “any individual representing a financial or business interest, or the financial interest of a not-for-profit with paid staff, who communicates outside of standard city process with a councillor or city staff to try to influence a decision on government matters.”

Bowman sees it as a way to share openly “who is trying to influence government decision-makers and why.”

It’s something he said has been “missing from Winnipeg City Hall for far too long.”

“They’re not novel, they’re not new tools, they’ve been around for many years and they’ve proven to work successfully in many jurisdictions,” Bowman said.

Former city councillor George Fraser addressed the executive policy committee with concerns about the “administrative load of managing and overseeing a registry,” which he said “could drain the human and financial resources” of the city’s new integrity commissioner, Sherri Walsh.

Signing the registry would be voluntary at first, but the administrative report on the registry does recommend the integrity commissioner should consider city charter amendments to make the registry mandatory, like penalties for non-compliance.

Bowman brushed off Fraser’s concerns and was adamant the registry is “another important step towards changing city hall for the better.”

“It’s important that we continue to move City Hall forward and not allow old school politics back into City Hall,” he said. 

Council as a whole will vote on the lobbyist registry motion next week. 

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