Toronto’s lobbyist registrar is recommending limits on when and where lobbyists can communicate with municipal politicians.
The recommendation, from registrar Linda Gehrke, will go before Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee next week. Ms. Gehrke recommends lobbyists have contact with public office holders only on business days between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., or during other scheduled meetings of council and its committees.
The recommendation dates back to a 2005 report on the computer leasing inquiry – which said lobbyists’ access should be restricted to regular office hours and locations – but it will head to executive at a time when lobbying is very much in the spotlight due to the impending casino vote.
Neither the province of Ontario nor Ottawa restrict when or where lobbyists can contact public office holders and the registrar’s recommendation could meet resistance from those who work irregular hours.
In a three-page report, Ms. Gehrke – who turned down interview requests Wednesday – says the restrictions “will enhance the integrity and perceived integrity of lobbying and city government decision-making.”
Statistics released by her office show the total number of active lobbyist registrations at the end of 2010 was 1,047. At the close of 2012, the total was 1,278.
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said he personally doesn’t have a problem with the recommendation, but other members of executive might.
“Councillors don’t keep regular office hours. That’s where there might be some arguments,” he said. “What’s wrong with them meeting at night, like they do with residents and everyone else?”
Mr. Ford has, at times, been criticized for not working regular hours at City Hall. However, he has said he does his job from the crack of dawn.
Paul Sutherland, president of Sutherland and Associates and a registered lobbyist, said lobbyists will abide by whatever city hall deems appropriate.