The Role of a Public Office Holder
The Saskatchewan legislation defines public office holders as:
- A member of the Executive Council and that member’s staff.
- A member of the Legislative Assembly and members of that person’s staff.
- An employee of a Ministry.
- Any person appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, or by a member of Executive Council.
- A public officer holder as defined in The Legislation Act.
- An employee, officer, director or member of a government institution.
The legislation in each jurisdiction varies slightly but for purposes of The Lobbyists Act for Saskatchewan you are not considered to be a public office holder if you are an elected official at the municipal level, a Chief or band councillor, a statutory officer appointed by the Legislative Assembly (this would be the Ombudsman, the Children’s Advocate, the Auditor, etc) or a federal civil servant.
Some examples of public office holders in Saskatchewan would be:
- The Premier and all Ministers and their staff
- Any member of the Legislative Assembly and their staff
- An employee of any provincial government department
- An employee of SGI or other provincial government institutions
As a public office holder you meet with a wide variety of people who want to speak with you on topics within your responsibility. Individuals, a business owner, a group of seniors or even your neighbor all have a right to communicate with you.
Communication takes many forms but for purposes of The Lobbyists Act for Saskatchewan, communication refers to specific techniques such as:
- Phone calls
- Arranging one or more meetings
- Presentations which can be either verbal or written
- Emails, letters, texts or memos
Of particular interest is a technique called “grassroots communications”. This type of lobbying occurs when, for payment and on behalf of a client or employer, individuals encourage members of the public to communicate directly with a public officer holder to influence a particular decision. The lobbyists appeals to the public through the mass media, such as newspaper advertisements, petitions, facebook or twitter.
If someone is asking you to endorse a policy, issue a licence or permit, authorize a purchase other than by way of public tender, appoint/hire a particular individual, or arrange a meeting, that could be considered lobbying.
Each situation is different so it’s prudent to check the lobbyist registry to see if that person has registered. For additional information or clarification of a specific matter please feel free to contact the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists at 306-787-0800.
The lobbyist registry discloses names of public office holders with whom lobbyists are communicating and on what topics. This allows interested citizens and media the opportunity to become aware of who or what organizations are trying to influence provincial government decisions.
The Lobbyists Act does not place any implicit responsibilities on public office holders with regards to meeting with lobbyists. It is the responsibility of each lobbyist to ensure he/she is compliant with the Act and to register their activities in the lobbyist registry.
Public officials have the right to ask if lobbyists have registered their activities on the public registry. The Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists recommends that public office holders regularly search the lobbyist registry. This will assist the public office holder in understanding what a lobbyist wants to meet about and who else the lobbyist may be speaking to.
It is advisable that staffs at all levels are made aware of The Lobbyists Act and how it may apply to their work.
Giving or promising a gift or personal benefit to a public office holder who is being lobbied, or whom a lobbyist intends to lobby may place the public office holder in a conflict of interest. As a result, the lobbyist would be breaching their obligations as a lobbyist under The Lobbyists Act.
It is important to note that an offer of a gift or personal benefit to a public office holder itself can be a breach of section 12 of the Act, even if the public office holder ultimately does not accept, or does not end up receiving or keeping the gift or personal benefit.
The onus remains on lobbyists to ensure that the offer of any gift or personal benefit to a public office holder complies with The Lobbyists Act before they make the offer.
PLEASE REFER TO THE REGISTRAR DIRECTIVE found at
https://www.sasklobbyistregistry.ca/resource-library/registrar-directives/ for more detailed information
on this topic.
It is not considered lobbying if the public office holder is acting in their official capacity. There are prohibitions if a former public officer holder wishes to engage in lobbying activities. The length and scope of the prohibition depends on the office held, but prohibitions are either six or twelve months.
Please refer to s. 9(1) of The Lobbyists Act for the full list of who is prohibited and the length of time associated with each office. A former public office holder may request an exemption from the Registrar of Lobbyists to have this prohibition period waived.
- s. 4(2)(b)
- The Act does not apply with respect to a submission made in any manner… … to a public office holder by an individual on behalf of a person or organization concerning:
(i) The enforcement, interpretation or application of any Act or regulation by the public office holder with respect to the person or organization; or
(ii) The implementation or administration of any program, policy, directive or guideline by the public office holder with respect to the person or organization.
(c) To a public office holder by an individual on behalf of a person or organization in response to a request initiated by a public office holder for advice or comment on any matter mentioned above
- No former public office holder who is a former minister of the Crown shall lobby…for a period of one year after the date on which he/she ceases to be a minister of the Crown
(2) No former public officer holder who is a former Member of the Legislative Assembly shall lobby…for a period of six months after the date he/she ceases to be a member
(3) No former public office holder who was employed in the office of a minister or former minister shall lobby…for a period of six months after which he/she ceases to be employed by that office
(4) No former public officer who was formerly employed in the premier’s office or in a former premier’s office shall lobby… for a period of six months after the date on which he/she ceases to be employed in that office
(5) Deputy Ministers and Assistant Deputy Ministers or a position of comparable rank in a ministry shall not lobby…for a period of six months after the date he/she ceases to be the permanent head or to occupy those ranks.
- Subject to section (2), in the course of lobbying activities, no consultant or in-house lobbyist shall give or promise any gift or personal benefit to the public office holder being lobbied or intended to be lobbied that the public office holder is not allowed to accept or that, if given, would place the public office holder in a conflict of interest.
- Subsection (1) does not apply to a gift or personal benefit valued at less than $200 and that is given as an incident of protocol or social obligations that normally accompany the duties or responsibilities of office of the public office holder.
- For the purposes of this section and subsection 25(1.1), “gift or personal benefit” includes:
- (a) an amount of money, if there is no obligation to repay it;
(b) a service, hospitality or property, including the use of property, that is provided without charge or for a charge that is less than its commercial value;
(c) any other prescribed gift or personal benefit.
These FAQ's are for advisory purposes only and cannot, and should not, be relied upon as legal advice. These FAQ's do not restrict the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists in interpreting or applying The Lobbyists Act. In all cases, the Act must be considered in its entirety and is always the definitive and binding document.
Q: Can public office holders be lobbyists?
It is not considered lobbying if the business is conducted when acting in their official capacity.
There are prohibitions if a former public office holder wishes to engage in lobbying activities. Depending on the post held these prohibitions range from 6 -12 months. A former public office holder may request an exemption from the Registrar of Lobbyists to have this prohibition period waived.
Q: Are there activities that are NOT considered lobbying?
Governance requires constant communication within government, between governments in all their various forms, and with businesses, other organizations and citizens. There are many, many of these conversations every day.
The purpose of lobbyist registration is to capture and report on only those conversations where someone is being paid to communicate with government in an effort to influence government in such a way as to benefit the party paying that person.
If you have a question of whether communications or intended communications are registerable please contact the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists.
Q: Can I be lobbied during an election period?
Yes, Government of Saskatchewan employees, including Chiefs of Staff, are considered public office holders and The Lobbyists Act does not make any exemptions for an election period.
Given that MLA’s are no longer considered POH’s once the election period begins an opportunity exists for lobbyists to change their focus to senior public office holders. You may see an increase in lobbying activities with you or your department.
Q: Can I meet with an unregistered lobbyist?
Public officials have the right to ask if lobbyists have registered their activities on the lobbyist registry.
The Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists recommends that public office holders regularly search the lobbyist registry. This will assist the public office holder in understanding what a lobbyist wants to meet about and who else the lobbyist may be speaking to.
Q: How do I check whether a lobbyist has registered their activities?
Search the lobbyist registry database.