Public Affairs Association of Canada

Public Affairs Association of Canada

April 11, 2006 11:30 ET

Public Affairs Industry Welcomes Accountability Laws, but Could Accountability Act Restrict Free-Flow of Information?

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - April 11, 2006) - Canada's largest public affairs industry association is extending qualified support to the Harper government on the introduction of its Federal Accountability Act, while also extending a helpful hand to make the legislation better. Although the Public Affairs Association of Canada (PAAC) has some concerns, the organization agrees there is a need for the Act, which closely follows recommendations made by Justice John Gomery.

"We have some concerns about unintended damage to the government relations process," said PAAC President Elaine Flis. "We certainly look forward to working with the government to fine tune this legislation to meet the government's objectives, while addressing these industry concerns."

Government Relations specialists - often called 'lobbyists' - are essential to building public policy because they help organizations get their views to government, much as lawyers act to plead cases on behalf of clients. "Should they be accountable? Yes," said Flis. "Could this legislation do unintentional damage to their essential work? Quite possibly, in its present form. But while there are particular aspects of the legislation our membership does not fully support, as an industry we welcome the opportunity to work with the Harper government to craft the best legislation possible. Our members are concerned about any government action that would unduly restrict the free-flow of information and ideas between government, its stakeholders and the broader public.

"In anticipation of the introduction of the Act, PAAC invited the Prime Minister to speak to its membership and begin a dialogue with the industry and all those involved in the development of public policy in Canada.

PAAC is at the leading edge of the movement in the Public Affairs industry to improve the professionalism and ethics of its members. In October 2005, PAAC adopted a voluntary Statement of Ethical Principles (SEP) for its members, recognizing the importance of integrity and transparency in public affairs. "The introduction of the SEP represents one step toward enhanced integrity in public affairs, which includes government relations," said Flis. "We are ready and willing to take further steps by working with the government to sculpt the new legislation from something good into something better."

Founded in 1984, The Public Affairs Association of Canada is a non-profit organization representing a broad range of public affairs professionals from the private and public sectors.

The SEP is accessible at:
http://www.publicaffairs.ca/whoweare/ethics.shtml

Contact Information

  • Public Affairs Association of Canada
    Elaine Flis
    President
    (416) 258-2264