Here’s what you need to know about lobbyists in B.C.

When will the province make it just a little tougher for lobbyists to do their job?

Credit: Top 10 Lobbying Subject Matters, 2015-16

See You in the Lobby

No matter who’s in power in Victoria, B.C. lobbyists will keep trying to pull the levers of government. They also drew unwanted attention after a recent Globe and Mail investigation found that some were making political donations under their own names and getting repaid by clients and companies, prompting an RCMP probe. Check out these tidbits from the public record over the past few years 

1. Lobbyists go straight to the top

The latest annual numbers show that more than half of their efforts zeroed in on ministers and MLAs.

2. Here in B.C., they come in two flavours

The provincial Lobbyists Registration Act recognizes consultant lobbyists (those who work for clients) and in-house lobbyists (those representing an organization).

3. They like to stick up for the little guy

Well, some of them do. But more often than not, if 2016’s monthly lists of who’s lobbying whom are any indication, they represent drug and resources companies.

4. David Suzuki is a lobbyist?

The leading environmentalist’s eponymous foundation has pressed elected officials on everything from transit funding to climate change action.

5. Remember, kids: lobbying can lead to politics…

Take Gabe Garfinkel, principal of Vancouver-based Garfinkel & Partners Strategies, who at press time was the B.C. Liberal candidate for Vancouver-Fairview in the May provincial election. Since 2014, Garfinkel’s clients have included Chevron Canada Ltd., First West Credit Union and U.S. giant Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.

6. …and vice versa. Rinse and repeat

Remember Kim Haakstad? Now a consultant lobbyist with Vancouver’s Wazuku Advisory Group, Haakstad resigned as Christy Clark’s deputy chief of staff in 2013 after being implicated in a dorky plan to court ethnic voters.

7. Bent or broke lobbying rules? Don’t sweat it too much

Of 178 new and outstanding compliance reviews by the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists for the 2014-15 fiscal year, just 16 led to formal investigations; the rest were resolved informally. In 2014, then­­­–registrar of lobbyists Elizabeth Denham upheld a $1,200 fine against ex–B.C. Liberal MLA Bill Belsey for contravening two sections of the kLobbyists Registration Act. For a first offence, the top fine under the Act is $25,000.

8. Over to you, Premier

In late 2013, Denham published a report containing several recommendations for amending the Lobbyists Registration Act. Among them: requiring designated filers to “include the name of any person or organization, other than the client or employer, who controls, directs or is a major funding source for lobbying activities.”