Trent’s Government Relations initiatives are led primarily by the Office of the President.
The University’s Government Relations function seeks to strategically position Trent University within the priorities of the Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments by building long-term relationships, increasing Trent’s profile and building awareness, identifying key research sectors within government priorities, creating new partnerships and supporting nation-wide and provincial advocacy strategies.
Lobbying requirements vary at the federal and provincial levels of government.
University employees interface with the federal and provincial government officials and staff in the course of conducting university business. The federal and provincial governments have legislation which require compliance from university employees. Any lobbying as defined below MUST be reported to Brenda Blackburn in the Office of the President following the lobbying activity.
Trent is registered under the Lobbying Act. Each month the University must file a monthly return reporting any oral and arranged communication with designated public office holders. The Office of the President is responsible for ensuring the University’s compliance with the Lobbying Act and its related regulations and files all official disclosures. Full compliance is important in order to ensure the University’s lobbying efforts are lawful and to avoid penalty. Please contact Brenda Blackburn by the first day of the month following your communication for inclusion in Trent's monthly report, if you have engaged in Federal lobbying on behalf of the University.
The Federal Government defines "lobbying" as:
Lobbying is communicating, with designated public office holders, for payment* with regard to:
- the making, developing or amending of federal legislative proposals, bills or resolutions, regulations, policies or programs;
- the awarding of federal grants, contributions or other financial benefits; and
- in the case of consultant lobbyists, the awarding of a federal government contract and arranging a meeting between their client and a public office holder.
communicating can include phone conversations, in-person meetings, teleconferences and written communication including emails.
designated public officer holders (DPOH): The sub-category of designated public office holders (DPOH) includes Ministers, Ministers of State, ministerial staff, senior public officials such as Deputy Ministers, and Associate and Assistant Deputy Ministers (including those of comparable rank), as well as the following prescribed positions:
- Members of Parliament
- Any position on the staff of the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons or on the staff of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, that is occupied by a person appointed pursuant to subsection 128(1) of the Public Service Employment Act
- Chief of the Defence Staff
- Vice Chief of the Defence Staff
- Chief of Maritime Staff
- Chief of Land Staff
- Chief of Air Staff
- Chief of Military Personnel
- Judge Advocate General
- Any position of Senior Advisor to the Privy Council to which the office holder is appointed by the Governor in Council
- Deputy Minister (Intergovernmental Affairs) Privy Council Office
- Comptroller General of Canada, and
- Any position to which the office holder is appointed pursuant to paragraph 127.1(1)(a) or (b) of the Public Service Employment Act
payment means money or anything of value and includes a contract, promise or agreement to pay money or anything of value.
Disclosure through a monthly report is not required if:
- The communication takes place in an open forum in which the subject matter, the names of participants and the name of the government organization represented are a matter of public record (similar to a parliamentary committee meeting that has public minutes)
- The communication is restricted to a simple request for information, enforcement, interpretation or application of a federal regulation or piece of legislation
- The DPOH initiates a discussion requesting an individual’s comment or expertise relating to the development, policy, programs or legislation
- A faculty member is providing independent advice or opinion to a government body but is not speaking on behalf of Trent University and the outcomes would not directly benefit Trent University.
Please note, disclosure is required if the communication is necessary to determine what additional information is needed to have an application or project approved. If funding is discussed in a DPOH initiated meeting you must report.
The penalties for failing to comply with the Lobbying Act are up to $50,000.00 or six months in jail on summary conviction or both and up to $200,000.00 or two years in jail on indictment or both. The Act sets a 5-year limitation period for summary conviction from the date the Commissioner became aware of the offence and 10 years after the day the alleged offence occurred. Further, the Commissioner may prohibit a person convicted of an offence under the Act from lobbying for up to 2 years. Additionally if an employee of the University has been successful at arranging funding but is found to be an unregistered Lobbyist, that funding will be lost to the University.
Trent is registered under the Lobbyists Registration Act. The Office of the President is responsible for overseeing the University’s compliance with the Act and its related regulations. Full compliance is important in order to ensure the University’s lobbying efforts are lawful and to avoid penalty. Please contact Brenda Blackburn if you have engaged in Provincial lobbying on behalf of the University.
The provincial government describes "lobbying" as:
Lobbying occurs when an individual or group is paid to communicate with a public office holder in an attempt to influence:
- the development of any legislative proposal by any member of the Legislative Assembly;
- the introduction, passage, defeat or amendment of any bill or resolution;
- the making or amendment of any regulation;
- the development, amendment or termination of any policy or program;
- any decision about privatization or outsourcing;
- the awarding of any grant, contribution or other financial benefit by or on behalf of the Crown;
- the awarding of any contract (consultant lobbyists only); or
- the arrangement of meetings between a public office holder and any other person (consultant lobbyists only).
Who is a public office holder?
- an employee of a ministry of the Government of Ontario,
- a minister,
- an employee in a minister’s office,
- a Member of Provincial Parliament ("MPP"),
- an employee in an MPP’s office,
- a member of the Ontario Provincial Police Force,
- an officer, director or employee of Ontario Power Generation Inc. or its subsidiaries,
- an officer, director or employee of Independent Electricity System Operator,
- an officer, director or employee of a public body listed in O. Reg. 146/10 under the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006.
An officer, director or employee of other entities MAY be public office holders if the entity has a governing body with Government of Ontario appointees.
A public office holder does not include the following public officials:
- justices of the peace; or
- officers of the Legislative Assembly (e.g. Ombudsman, Information & Privacy Commissioner)
Conflict of interest
Please note, lobbying activities cannot knowingly place a public office holder in a position of real or potential conflict of interest. This may include accepting gifts.