Bruce Carson, former senior adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is in court charged with influence-peddling. So why did prosecutors decide not to prosecute Carson for failing to register and disclose his lobbying activities under the Lobbying Act? Likely because Carson, and his client, have both claimed that he was not paid to lobby, only for advice. Only people who are paid to lobby are required to register under the act. Treasury Board President Tony Clement recently announced the changes the Conservatives’ plans to make to the federal Lobbying Act, and both he and all MPs on the House committee that recommended changes to the act ignored the loophole exploited by Carson (the same loophole Rahim Jaffer exploited). As long as unpaid lobbyists are not required to register, no lobbyist will ever be prosecuted for violating the Lobbying Act because all they have to do when caught lobbying without registering is claim, as Carson and Jaffer did, that they were not paid for the lobbying they did. Also as long as this loophole is left open, there will be no five-year ban on federal Cabinet ministers, the leader of the opposition, their senior staff, and senior government officials lobbying the federal government after they leave their position. All of them will continue to be allowed to lobby the government the day after they leave, in secret without registering, as long as they are not paid to do the lobbying and are careful who they lobby. And because they are not required to register this lobbying, they are also not required to follow the ethics rules in the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct. In other words, even if the Conservatives make the changes proposed by the House Committee and Tony Clement, secret, unethical lobbying by the most powerful former politicians, staff and government officials will still be legal. The Conservatives promised during the 2006 election to end secret lobbying of the federal government. They continue to break that promise. As well, the seven provinces that have a lobbying disclosure law have the same loophole in their law that allows for secret, unethical lobbying, and the three provinces and two territories that do not have a lobbying law obviously also allow secret, unethical lobbying. Only the City of Toronto’s bylaw requires unpaid lobbyists to register and disclose their lobbying activities (although the bylaw has other loopholes such as not requiring non-profit organizations to register). Canadians deserve better from all their governments. Duff Conacher Founding board member Democracy Watch Ottawa, Ont.