Update on the Lobbying Law (PL56): Government Report Released Addressing NonProfit Concerns

Earlier this fall, we wrote a primer on PL56, or the “Lobbying Law”. As we wrote then,

The original law was trying to address to a reality where private and corporate interests were able to drastically affect government policy while circumventing any form of democratic process, and it imposed heavy reporting standards for lobbyists. The biggest change contained in the latest version is to force all non-profit organizations, and anyone who works or volunteers in a non-profit, to register as a lobbyist, subject to the same standards. There is widespread resistance to the bill within the community sector, with groups pointing to the potentially enormous impacts the bill would have on administration, finances, transparency, and democratic participation.

Following a significant push by community organizations, deliberations on the Bill were postponed until a report on the impacts of including non-profits in the lobbying law was completed (you can follow that saga, in French, here).

The report came out last week, and the reactions have been mixed. One the one hand, it makes clear that the current Bill should not pass as it is currently written, and it also is consistently clear that members of Boards of Directors should not be considered individual lobbyists.

On the other hand, most of the suggested improvements still include some types of nonprofit organizations in the Bill. Specifically, the report suggests five possible avenues moving forward:

• Registration of nonprofits, but with significantly lighter reporting requirements
• Excluding grassroots organizations offering direct service provision from the Bill
• Including social economy projects and coalitions in the Bill
• Including social economy projects
• Status quo

RQ-ACA (the organization representing provincially funded nonprofits), who have been leading much of the charge behind the nonprofit response, have been clear in their disappointment with the solutions offered, noting that not only do numerous options still include nonprofits, but the report doesn’t recommend one option over the others, leaving the decision wide open to members of the National Assembly. A coalition of groups opposing the law have offered a slightly saucier response, agreeing wholeheartedly with the spirit of the report and suggesting that the solution is simply that the Bill be shelved completely, noting also that this is the third time in the past 10 years that nonprofits have fought, and won, this battle.

We’ll do our best to keep you updated with further updates and campaigns related to PL56.