Vision Vancouver has introduced a motion calling for new measures that require municipal elected officials to disclose potential conflicts due to being employed as lobbyists or at government relations firms.
“Under the current Financial Disclosure Act, if an elected official has a second job working as a lobbyist, consultant or for a government relations firm, they do not have to disclose their corporate clients,” said Vision Councillor Andrea Reimer. “The public has no way of knowing if a councillor who works for a government relations firm is doing work with companies who then will come to him or her for a council decision."
“This has never been an issue in the past, but given that several members of Council either work for a government relations firm or for private companies that take on clients, the public deserves to know,” added Vision Councillor Heather Deal. “Even if a City Councillor is not working directly with the corporate client of their lobbying firm, the optics are bad and it harms the public trust in elected office. The Financial Disclosure Act should be amended to end this loophole and require full transparency and disclosure.”
A previous motion calling for councillors to disclose potential conflicts from public relations firms, government relations firms, and consultancies came to Council on November 14, 2017. NPA Councillors Affleck, Ball, Bremner and De Genova all declared they were in a conflict of interest on the motion, and left Council chambers. The motion coming forward to council next week on May 1st calls for amendments to the Financial Disclosure Act to ensure that all potential conflicts and financial interests of municipally elected officials are disclosed per the stated intent of the Act.In the past week, media have reported that NPA Councillor Hector Bremner, who also maintains a job as a VP at the Pace Group, has received not one but two conflict of interest complaints from members of the public. The complaints are now subject to an independent third-party investigator.