Canada's Original Think Tank

Committee of the Whole — Commissioner of Lobbying

Committee of the Whole — Commissioner of Lobbying

Committee of the Whole — Commissioner of Lobbying

Senator Terry Mercer: 

Madam Bélanger, thank you for being here. I appreciate it.

Ms. Nancy Bélanger: Thank you.

Senator Mercer: One of the things that is important for the Commissioner of Lobbying and her office to do is to understand what we as parliamentarians use lobbyists for, and we do use them. I’m sorry to tell Senator Dawson that, but we use them for information and contacts, and we use them to help us do our jobs.

It’s important for you as the commissioner to meet with parliamentarians, both in the other place and here, on an individual basis and ask us how we use lobbyists, so that when a complaint is lodged by whomever, you have an understanding of where we’re coming from.

I’ve been in this place since 2003, but I’ve also been around politics in this town and other towns for most of my adult life. I’ve been lobbied, and I’ve lobbied. Each time I’m lobbied, I have a different objective when I meet with a lobbyist. Sometimes it’s because I want to meet the lobbyist’s client, who is someone with an interest in legislation we’re considering, or they may have information that is not readily available to me otherwise. I also want to make sure I have those contacts for future legislation. That all works.

It’s important for you to have a plan in place. I don’t expect to see you in my office next week to talk to me about it, but I would like to see you in the offices of MPs and senators over the next year or so, soliciting their input, trying to get an understanding.

One of the problems we’ve had in this chamber, in particular in the recent past, is that officers of Parliament have come to the Senate, done work and have had absolutely no idea what we do or how we do it. It’s really important that officers of Parliament get a grip on what we do and how we do it.

By the way, you should also be very clear that what we do at this end of the building is in many ways very different from what they do at the other end of the building. It’s not apples and apples; it’s apples and oranges.

I would encourage you to do that.

Ms. Bélanger: I very much appreciate your comment, and I commit to coming to meet with you. It would be a pleasure to hear your perspective. I very much appreciate the fact that you have offered. I will be here. I will come and meet you, absolutely. Thank you.

Senator Mercer: Thank you.