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What is Lobbying?

On close votes in the United Kingdom Parliament at Westminster, MPs used to leave their seats and enter the “Aye” lobby or the “Nay” lobby adjacent to the House of Commons to express their choice. Many years ago, people attempting to influence MPs in these votes became known as “lobbyists”, and a whole new profession was born.

What do lobbyists do? In simplest terms lobbyists help organizations and individuals get what they want from government. This may involve securing public funding or contracts; resolving disputes with government bodies; obtaining permits and approvals; or changing legislation, policy or programs.

In Canada it is now quite common for private companies, industry and professional associations, charitable and community groups, private individuals and even other levels of government to lobby. 

Increasingly organizations and individuals retain professional government relations consultants, or lobbyists. Governments are large and complicated organisms; a good lobbyist can add value by helping clients define their objectives, identify decision-makers and communicate with them in a timely and effective way.

Why lobby? As taxpayers, voters and residents, all organizations and individuals in Canada are affected by government - every single day. We are taxed or regulated in many aspects of our business, professional and personal lives. We consume a vast array of public services and products, from health care to car insurance. If we don’t like what a government does (or doesn't do), we can suffer silently.  Or we can do something about it.




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