Some people feel strongly about upholding ethics in both small businesses and the world. They wish to be a voice for not only themselves, but for others. If you’re eager to turn your beliefs and interests into a worthy cause that’s also a career, consider entering the world of professional lobbying.
What Is a Professional Lobbyist?
A professional lobbyist’s job is to help others express their concerns to government officials. They seek to persuade those officials to enact legislation that benefits that groups and causes for which they’re lobbying. As a lobbyist, you can use your passion for a cause and communicate that passion with public officeholders to create, develop, or amend public policies or programs. For example, a lobbyist for a pharmaceutical company might lobby government officials for approval of a new drug that might treat a debilitating disease.
First Steps Toward a Lobbying Career
You don’t have to have a college degree to become a lobbyist, but you do need commitment and tenacity. As a start, it’s a good idea to perform volunteer work or complete an internship with a political campaign for an elected public official. You can also look for a job with a political or social organization, consulting firm, private corporation, or federal government agency that works with the causes and policies you support.
In-House vs. Consultant Lobbyist
If you decide to become a professional lobbyist, it’s important for you to understand the difference between an in-house lobbyist and a consultant lobbyist. If you choose to become a consultant lobbyist, you’re likely to work in fields such as government relations, law, and accounting. Firms that specialize in government relations or strategic advice typically employ consultant lobbyists, who must register all their lobbying activities. On the other hand, if you wish to become an in-house lobbyist, you usually communicate with public officeholders about the concerns of corporations or organizations.
The Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct
Once you become a professional lobbyist, you must follow the code of conduct that the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada created. It’s here to make sure that all actions involving you, public officeholders, and the public remain ethical and impartial. These codes are updated to stay current, addressing issues such as gift acceptance, contingency fees, and grassroots campaigns in 2018 alone.
The code of conduct requires lobbyist to be transparent about all communications and to provide accurate information. Lobbyists must not disclose information they’re not entitled to have, and they must not place any officeholders in any conflict of interest. In addition, they must not promise or offer gifts to officeholders.
Professional Lobbyist Registration
If you’re a consultant lobbyist, The Lobbying Act of Canada requires you to register within 10 days of serving as a lobbyist. Under this same law, in-house lobbyists must register within two months of starting lobbying activities. Both types of lobbyists must submit a monthly return to the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying within 15 days of arranged or oral communication between yourself and a designated public officeholder.
As of 2018, the average lobbyist salary in Ontario ranges between $90,000 and $160,000. Your salary depends on how long you’ve been in the profession, your certifications and education, and what field you choose to work in.
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