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Backgrounder on Democracy Watch’s 9 cases challenging Ontario Integrity Commissioner rulings on lobbyists in 2019-2020, 6 cases filed in 2021, and one case filed in 2022

From April 2018 to March 2020, Ontario Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake issued 192 secret Advisory Opinions, closed 135 secret compliance reviews at the initial stage, and resolved 436 cases informally in secret (Click here to see Backgrounder on Integrity Commissioner’s Rulings 2018-2020). At least some of those 763 secret decisions by Commissioner Wake allowed dozens of other lobbyists to lobby unethically.

The first three cases of the nine case Democracy Watch filed in 2020 challenge rulings #6 and 7 on page 52 of the Commissioner’s 2019-2020 Annual Report, and ruling #10 on page 53 of the Report. These are the first public Commissioner rulings enforcing section 3.4 of the Lobbyists Registration Act (LR Act). The cases are Division Court file numbers 632/20, 633/20 and 634/20. Click here to see the Notice of Application challenging ruling #6 (the other two applications are very similar).

The other six cases of the nine total cases challenge rulings #s 5, 14, 17 and 23 (the four lobbyists who also failed to register) and rulings #s 13 and 20 (the two lobbyists who violated the lobbying ethics rule) in the Commissioner’s 2019-2020 Annual Report. The six cases are Division Court file numbers 644/20, 645/20, 646/20, 647/20, 648/20 and 669/20.

In her November 2021 ruling, Ontario Divisional Court Justice Favreau unjustifiably blocked the cases from proceeding by falsely claiming that the nine cases did not challenge the Commissioner’s interpretation and application of the LR Act (in fact, all of them do), and falsely claiming that hearing the cases would expose the identity of the lobbyists. The Federal Court has allowed similar cases to proceed, with the lobbyists’ identity protected by a confidentiality order. Click here to Democracy Watch’s Notion of Motion, and click here to see its Factum, appealing Justice Favreau’s ruling.

Democracy Watch also filed six more cases in 2021 challenge rulings #1 and 3 on page 52 of the Commissioner’s 2020-2021 Annual Report and rulings #5, 6 and 8 on pages 53-54 of the Report. The cases are Division Court file numbers 587/21 to 592/21. Click here to see the Notice of Application challenging ruling #6 (the other five applications are very similar).

Democracy Watch filed one more case in 2022 challenging the ruling that begins at the bottom of page 57 and continues onto page 58 of the Commissioner’s 2021-2022 Annual Report in which the Integrity Commissioner again let a lobbyist off even though they violated the law in several ways. Click here to see the Notice of Application. The case is Division Court file number 390/22.

Democracy Watch’s total of 16 cases challenge 15 of the Integrity Commissioner’s rulings made in the past three years (two of the cases challenge different aspects of one of the Commissioner’s rulings). Nick Papageorge and Wade Poziomka of Ross McBride LLP are representing Democracy Watch for all the cases.

To access any of the court files on any of the 16 cases, email the Divisional Court registry office at: [email protected].