The Yukon NDP is pushing for a new law to regulate lobbying in the territory.
The Opposition party tabled its Paid Lobbying Act in the Yukon Legislative Assembly this week.
The act would require anyone paid to lobby the government as part of their job to register and report all lobbying activity.
Non-profit organizations would be excluded, unless they represent industry, management, unions or professional groups, according to the tabled document.
Lobbying has always and will always occur in a modern democracy, said NDP Leader Liz Hanson at a news conference this week.
The purpose of the legislation is not to curtail lobbying but to make sure it happens in a transparent way, she said.
“When the government comes forward each fall and spring with amendments to legislation or proposed new legislation, it didn’t just come out of the air. It came because there are conversations, it comes because there are interests expressed.”
The federal government has had lobbying legislation in place since 1985.
All Canadian provinces either have passed laws or currently have them tabled, said Hanson.
It’s something the NDP has been pushing for in the Yukon for years.
The late Steve Cardiff, former NDP MLA for Mount Lorne, was a champion of the legislation.
“The Yukon Party government has consistently refused it,” said Hanson.
NDP Justice critic Lois Moorcroft asked for the government’s position again in the legislature last month.
“When the Yukon Party government came out with its unilateral plan for the Peel watershed in January, it confirmed what many Yukoners suspected,” said Moorcroft on March 25. “This government does not listen to First Nation governments or to the Yukon public. So who is the Yukon Party government listening to? Actually we have no way of knowing because Yukon has no lobbying legislation.
“Mr. Speaker, does the government believe that Yukoners have the right to know who influences government decisions?”
Premier Darrell Pasloski responded that his government goes not wish to require interest groups register as lobbyists.
“As I have said many times in this House, I don’t think that we need to be asking such groups as the Anti-Poverty Coalition, the Salvation Army, FASSY, outfitters, WTAY, TIAY, AYC, AFY, municipalities, YCS, Challenge, Canadian Cancer Society – they are just some examples – school councils – should they all be registered lobbyists? We don’t believe that they should be.”
The NDP has not asked the tabled Paid Lobbying Act to be passed as-is. Instead, the party has called on the government to form a legislative committee to take the question to the public and develop recommendations for lobbying legislation in the territory.
A spokesperson for cabinet said the government is still considering the NDP’s proposal and has not yet formed a position on the question.
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