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Mayor Jyoti Gondek says UCP municipal lobbyist resolution is an ‘absurd proposition’

Currently, municipal officials are exempt from registering as lobbyists because it falls under intergovernmental relations.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek would say nay on a proposed resolution coming to the United Conservative Party AGM this weekend.

Resolution 14, put forward by the constituency of Calgary-North West would require a member of council, their offices or employees of municipalities to register as lobbyists.

This weekend the UCP has its first AGM with Danielle Smith as the new party leader. There are 10 governance resolutions and 20 policy resolutions.

We reached out to the Calgary-North West representative for comments but didn’t receive a response by the time the story was published.

In their online rationale, it said this group is currently exempt from disclosure in the Lobbyist Act.

“It should require them to be held to the highest standards of accountability and transparency in all areas of their activities/operations and exercise of their judgment and authority, including any and all lobbying of members of the legislative assembly and officers, employees, or agents of the Government of Alberta,” the resolution rationale read.

Currently, they’re exempt as it falls under intergovernmental relations.

Mayor Gondek said she was surprised to see a resolution like this come forward.

“The way I’m reading it, it sounds a lot like they want members of council to register as lobbyists, which sends a pretty clear signal to me that whoever wrote this resolution doesn’t understand that our job is to be partners and delivering service to the citizens that we commonly serve,” she said.

“Asking us to be lobbyists is an absurd proposition.”

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Why limit it to municipal officials?

University of Calgary political scientist Lisa Young also questioned why the proposal would come forward. Further, she wondered why municipal officials were singled out.

She said school officials, community organizations and even the federal government also meet with provincial officials.

“This is not well thought out,” said Young.

“There’s basically an exemption across the public sector, which basically says, ‘Look, this is intergovernmental relations, not lobbying.’ It’s a different category of things. There are orders of governments that have complex sets of relationships with one another.”

The mayor said the amounts to adding more red tape to the relationship.

“If you are already disclosing who you’re meeting with and we are already putting out publicly why we are meeting with these folks, why on earth will we need to jump through another hoop with a government that advocates for cutting red tape?” Mayor Gondek said.

“Asking us to register as lobbyists is nothing less than red tape for no reason.”

The resolution will be up for discussion and a vote. It would need to pass that vote. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it would ever become part of the Lobbyist Act.