Toronto Taxpayers Coalition today is urging the Mayor’s Executive Committee to make meaningful changes by ending the “Licence To Lobby” loophole.
Each year, local community organizations lobby city councillors for millions of dollars in funding and for support of various issues. “Lobbying activities by political not-for-profit groups are not only private, they’re completely undocumented,” said coalition president Matthew McGuire. “Many of these groups receive government funding, others still put considerable influence on City Council, and we have no record of who they’ve met with.”
By limiting access to councillors, Ms. Gerhke’s recommendations would actually make the lobbying firms more powerful. The coalition is arguing that rather than imposing curfew-like restrictions on lobbying, City Council should expand Ms. Gehrke’s oversight to all City agencies, boards, and commissions, and to the lobbying activities of not-for-profit organizations.
“When developers approach council to lobby regarding TCHC, Toronto Parking Authority, and other City agencies, the public has a right to know,” McGuire asserted. “Likewise, when not-for-profits approach council to ask for government funding, subsidies, bans on plastic bags, new taxes, or support on any issue, the public has a right to know. Currently, there is no disclosure. That’s wrong.”
“These loopholes are much more concerning than a councillor replying to an email on their Blackberry at 8pm.”
Accountability and oversight are paramount to Toronto Taxpayers Coalition. Taxpayers have a right to know this information.
“This is not a left and right issue. This is an issue of transparency,” McGuire said.
Mayor Ford’s Executive Committee is to consider Ms. Gehrke’s recommendations on Wednesday.