Editor, In response to your Mar. 3 article, “MLA pushes for transparency with NWT lobbyist registry”, this push by MLAs to create a lobbyist registry is admirable. Most provinces and many large cities in Canada have lobbyist registries and it’s something that should certainly be on the radar here in the NWT.
Lobbying, whether it happens often or not, is a legitimate activity, and in turn, the public has the right to know which individuals or organizations are influencing our government. Since devolution was completed, this kind of transparency is even more important now that our ministers are regulators and have the power to approve/deny development permits.
The only clear argument against setting up a Lobbyist Registry is concerns over the cost and time required to set it up. I would suggest that this government could start disclosing more information today. The best example of a cheap and simple solution to this problem is in Calgary where since 2014, the mayor and all city councillors have been disclosing any meetings that they or their staff hold on a quarterly basis.
This low cost way of improving transparency in government would be easy to implement in the NWT and should be implemented by April 1st – there are no barriers to this kind of disclosure.
But, our regular MLAs should do more than just pass motions and demand action from Cabinet. They should set an example and immediately adopt such a system of disclosure into their Code of Conduct or other policy of the Assembly. It is just as important in a consensus government for regular MLAs to also disclose who they meet with. If MLAs take a leadership position, Cabinet is sure to follow.
Rather than kicking the ball to the next government, this government can, and should, take immediate action on this issue.
Where there is a will there’s a way and I hope our government has a will to improve transparency, not just the words.
David Wasylciw1 comment