Two senior city councillors say it’s time Winnipeg created a lobbyists registry.
Scott Fielding and Dan Vandal said keeping a public record of the professionals who deal with politicians and senior administrators and what they’re talking about is vital to ensuring public trust and accountability at city hall.
"Not that there is anything wrong with lobbying, but creating a lobbyists’ registry can help restore trust in the decision-making process at city hall," Fielding (St. James-Brooklands) said. "I expect there will be some pretty broad-based support for it."
Fielding said the registry would keep track of all contact between professionals and councillors and senior administrators, and what they’re talking about.
"Lobbying is something that takes place but having a registry is vital to transparency and openness to what’s taking place," Fielding said, adding city hall has taken a beating in the last 18 months over allegations of covert influence with politicians and administrators.
Fielding, who admits to be seriously considering running for mayor in the October civic election, will bring the motion to council, with Vandal supporting it.
Fielding said Toronto and Ottawa already have their own municipal registries, adding he’s asking other members of council to instruct the administration to look at what’s been done at other municipalities and several provincial governments and come back with an implementation plan in 60 days.
"We’re not asking (administration) to re-invent the wheel," Fielding said. "There are registries elsewhere that can be used as model."
Fielding said a lobbyists registry wouldn’t apply to a resident contacting their ward councillor, mayor or city staff.
"It would be paid lobbyists from the business community and others," he said, including groups that approach city hall with initiatives. "Citizens deserve to know who’s talking to who.
"This would provide better transparency and openness at city hall," Fielding said.
Fielding said he envisions Winnipeg’s lobbyist registry being administered by its city auditor, who would submit a report annually to council on dealings between lobbyists and politicians.