Since 1994, Members of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan have been governed by specific legislation regarding their conduct as Members. The Members of the Legislative Assembly Conflict of Interest Act, S.S.1979, c.M-11.2, included specific prohibitions regarding the use of insider information, regulation of participation by Members in government contracts and general disclosure requirements for all MLAs. The Members’ Conflict of Interest Act, S.S.1993, c.M-11.11 (the Act), following its proclamation on July 15, 1994, repealed The Members of the Legislative Assembly Conflict of Interests Act and introduced broad new responsibilities for the Members of the Legislative Assembly.
In 2014, The Lobbyists Act established that the Conflict of Interest Commissioner would also serve as Saskatchewan's Registrar of Lobbyists.
Conflict of Interest Commissioner
The Commissioner performs a variety of roles under the Act: A member may seek, in writing, the advice and recommendations of the Commissioner on any matter respecting the obligations of the member under the Act.
- An important role of the Commissioner is that of assisting MLAs in understanding their obligations under the Act. The commissioner is available to meet with caucuses, and with individual members, to provide advice or recommendations when requested or required.
- Members must complete and file a confidential disclosure statement with the Commissioner. From the detailed private disclosure statement, the Commissioner prepares public disclosure statements. The public disclosure statements are deposited with the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly and are available for public inspection.
- After filing a private disclosure statement, the member and, if available, the member’s spouse must meet with the Commissioner to ensure that adequate disclosure has been made and to obtain advice on the member’s obligations under the Act.
- The Commissioner may also determine that the advice and recommendations provided to individual MLAs have a broader general application and may provide the advice as guidelines to all MLAs.
- The Commissioner may also conduct investigations and inquiries under the Act.
Investigations and Inquiries
The Commissioner may receive a request for an opinion with respect to compliance with the Act by a member from:
- any member in writing;
- the Legislative Assembly by resolution; or
- the President of the Executive Council respecting compliance by a minister.
The Commissioner may conduct an investigation with or without conducting a formal inquiry. Should an inquiry be conducted, the Commissioner has the power, privileges, and immunities of a commissioner under The Public Inquiries Act.
The opinion of the Commissioner with respect to a request is provided to the Legislative Assembly through the Office of the Speaker and to the affected member, except when the request is initially received from the President of the Executive Council, in which case the report is made to him or her.
Members are required to file with the Commissioner a confidential statement including the following information as it relates to the member, the member’s spouse, dependent child(ren), and private companies controlled by the member, the member’s spouse and dependent children, or any of them:
- all assets, liabilities, and financial interests;
- all income received from any source;
- all government contracts; and
- any fees, gifts or personal benefits exceeding $200 received from the same source in a 12 month period.
From the detailed private information, the Commissioner prepares public disclosure statements. The public disclosure statement does not include specific dollar amounts unless disclosure of actual amounts is deemed to be in the public interest by the Commissioner.
Once prepared, the public disclosure statements are delivered to the Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly and are available for public examination.
It is a breach of the Act for a member to fail to file a disclosure statement or statement of gifts or benefits, or to fail to comply with the Act in any way.
Registrar of Lobbyists
In August 2016, the Saskatchewan legislation regarding lobbyists came into force. In accordance with the legislation, Ronald L. Barclay, the current Conflict of Interest Commissioner, also oversees The Lobbyists Act.
The purpose of The Lobbyists Act is to enhance the integrity and accountability of government by fostering openness and transparency about who is attempting to influence decisions made by provincial public office holders.
The Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists is responsible for designing, implementing, and operating the province’s lobbyist registry; promoting and educating the general public, stakeholders, and the lobbyist community about The Lobbyists Act, and ensuring compliance and conformity of lobbyists to the Act.
The Registrar provides direction to lobbyists and may conduct investigations if there is reason to believe one is necessary to ensure compliance with the Act. The Registrar also has the authority to level an administrative penalty up to $25,000 on those who are found to be in breach of the Act.
You can view the website at: www.sasklobbyistregistry.ca