I, along with countless millions, was a huge fan of the hit '90s TV show The X-Files. There is a certain symmetry between today's 20th anniversary of the show's premier and the publication of Andrew Dreschel's piece in today's Spectator about our soon-to-be on-line lobbyist registry (read more here: http://www.thespec.com/news-story/4841496-dreschel-watered-down-lobbyist-registry-deficient-/).
If you too were a fan of the show, you'll remember its main theme (and most valuable lesson): Trust No One.
In its current form, the proposed registry will be weak at best and seriously lacking at worst. While it is great thing to be the third city in Ontario to have such a registry (after Toronto and Ottawa), that doesn't mean it should be so third-rate.
We chose to emulate Ottawa's model but only to a degree. For instance,"in Ottawa, [...] lobbyists also have to report each individual contact with public office holders, including the specific type of activity engaged in." Not so in Hamilton.
There are other differences too but they all lead to the same inescapable question: what are we so eager to hide?
This situation does not boost confidence in the City or its lobbyists. One gets the distinct impression that strings are being pulled.
According to some, a more forthright registry would put a chill on economic development. I'd counter that if any economic development relies on secrecy as a way of doing business, it's not the sort of development we should be welcoming.
If we are truly committed to transparency as a City, we need to start making an honest effort to openness and not silly compromises and half-measures. It's time for leadership, not hand wringing.
I want to trust the City but they're sure not making it easy!