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LETTER: Lobby registry will show special interest influence

re: City lobbyist registry
Way back in 2004, I was hired by a client to lobby Hamilton councillors respecting a business proposition. My client wanted to open a driving range for golfers on his property not far from Flamboro Downs. Before I got started I wanted to ensure transparency, so I consulted the provincial and federal lobbyist registry to inquire whether I should sign up as a lobbyist with their registries as Hamilton did not have one at the time. I was advised that I should approach city hall and try to get a lobbyist registry started.
Soon after, a voluntary registry was born, and I was the first recorded lobbyist. Fast forward to today, there are three of us on the list.
The registry should be mandatory. The city’s integrity commissioner could easily take over the management of the registry, if council wanted him to.
Once it is mandatory for lobbyists to register with the city, there will be a few red faces on council, as there are many lobbyists currently working under the radar. One can only hope that Lloyd Ferguson, the chair of the sub-committee in charge of rolling out the mandatory registry, gets his act together, starting with the definition of a lobbyist. A lobbyist is a person who tries to influence legislation on behalf of a special interest or a member of a lobby. I’m just hoping to live long enough to see the registry I helped create become mandatory, instead of the voluntary one that is not very effective at capturing lobbyists.
Mark-Alan Whittle
Hamilton Mountain

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