When it does not interfere with equitable access to public office holders, many countries consider lobbying as a legitimate practice that provides public office holders with access to otherwise unavailable information and expertise. Canada is one of the countries that formally and legally recognizes the legitimacy of lobbying. The main purpose of lobbying laws is to make lobbying activities in a given territory transparent and known to the public by requiring lobbyists to disclose and describe their lobbying mandates on a registry. In the province of Quebec, before April 2015, lobbyists were not required to register mandates targeting health care facilities such as hospitals in the provincial lobbying registry, as decision makers of these institutions were not considered as public office holders. Therefore, all lobbying activities targeting these institutions were performed in the dark. On April 1, 2015, the Act to amend the organization and governance of the health and social services network in Quebec came into force and indirectly and unintentionally eliminated this exemption. Consequently, since April 1, 2015, all lobbyists must register their lobbying activities when they target local health and social service centres. Using data from the Quebec lobbyist registry, we conducted interrupted time series analyses to examine whether the reform has had an impact on the number of lobbying mandates and lobbyists registered in the registry. Globally, the reform has accelerated the sustained increase in the number of registrations since the registry was created in 2002 for certain types of registrations, in particular for the number of registered in-house lobbyists of professional associations and trade unions and the number of lobbying mandates registered by consultant lobbyists to influence the awarding of authorizations and contracts.
Dr. Mathieu Ouimet