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Elections Canada Code of Conduct

1. Preamble

Consistent with the requirements of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA), the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) issues this addendum to the Treasury Board (TB) Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment, and the Directive on Reporting and Managing Financial Conflicts of Interest which, for the purposes of the PSDPA, are collectively to be deemed to be the code of conduct of the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada (commonly and hereinafter referred to as EC) and hereinafter referred to as the "Code".

The Code will highlight the unique environment employees of EC face as a result of the important and unique mandate of the CEO in Canadian democracy.

2. Application

The Code forms an integral part of the terms and conditions of employment of EC employees appointed pursuant to the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) regardless of their level or position (EC employees). Any breach of the Code can lead to disciplinary measures up to and including dismissal. 

3. EC's Mandate

EC is an independent, non-partisan agency that reports directly to Parliament. EC must be prepared to conduct a federal general election, by-election or referendum (collectively an "Electoral Event"), administer the political financing provisions of the Canada Elections Act (CEA), and monitor compliance with electoral legislation. EC is also mandated to conduct public education and information programs for students on the electoral process, and provide support to the independent boundaries commissions in charge of adjusting the boundaries of federal electoral districts following each decennial census. Finally, EC may carry out studies on alternative voting methods and, with the approval of parliamentarians, test alternative voting processes for future use during electoral events.

4. EC's Mission

EC's mission is to ensure that Canadians can exercise their democratic rights to vote and be a candidate.

5. Roles and Responsibilities

5.1 Chief Electoral Officer

The CEO is responsible for preserving public trust and confidence in the integrity of his organization and for upholding the tradition and practice of a professional non-partisan federal public sector.

5.2 Senior Officer for Disclosure

The CEO has designated the Commissioner of Canada Elections as the senior officer for disclosure. The senior officer is responsible, pursuant to the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, for receiving and dealing with, in accordance with the duties and powers set out in TB's Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, disclosures of wrongdoings made by an EC employee.

5.3 EC Employees

EC employees must act in a manner that will bear the closest public scrutiny. All acts and transactions performed by EC employees during the course of their duties must comply with the obligations set out in this Code.

EC employees must conduct themselves in a way that the public confidence and trust in the integrity, objectivity and impartiality of the electoral process is preserved and enhanced.

In light of the unique mandate of the CEO, as his/her employees, it is imperative that EC employees comply with the requirements set out in Appendix B of the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment to prevent and deal with conflict of interest and post-employment situations. In cases where an EC employee believes that there may be a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest situation, he/she may discuss the situation with his/her supervisor or provide in writing the relevant facts of the situation. In cases where the EC employee discusses such a situation with his/her supervisor, the supervisor must consult his/her Human Resources Advisor to determine whether the EC employee must provide the relevant facts of the situation in writing.

In either case, when a supervisor receives in writing notice from an EC employee that he/she may be in a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest situation, the supervisor must consult with his/her Human Resources Advisor and seek prior written authorization from his/her EXCOM member on the course of action that is proposed.

5.4 Chief Human Resources Officer

The Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) provides organization-wide operational leadership for the design, development and implementation of a full range of human resources policies, strategies, programs and initiatives with an eye to effective overall management of human resources at EC. Thus, the CHRO establishes and reinforces an organizational culture calling for a positive and productive workplace, of which values and ethics are a part.

5.5 Human Resources Advisors

Human Resources Advisors offer information, advice and support to EC managers and EC employees concerning the interpretation and application of this Code. They also ensure that EC human resources policies, procedures and programs embody the values and principles of ethics set out in this Code.

6. Political impartiality

The principle of political impartiality and neutrality, along with the appearance thereof, is fundamental in the administration of the CEA and is central to the performance of the CEO's mandate. This is in addition to the principles set out in Part 7 of the PSEA dealing with specific political activities defined in Section 111 of the PSEA, which are addressed more specifically in Appendix B of the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment.

It is essential that EC employees observe strict political impartiality and neutrality not only in the exercise of their functions and duties but as well in their activities outside of the work environment, including in the context of their use of social media, as their behaviour may influence the confidence of electors and political stakeholders in the electoral process. 

The principle of political impartiality and neutrality applies to all levels – federal, provincial and territorial – as the political issues that public authorities must deal with are closely and inextricably linked with one another.

7. Strategic objectives

The activities of EC are guided by EC's three enduring strategic objectives.

  • Trust
    To maintain and strengthen the recognition among Canadians, whether they are electors or other participants in the electoral process, that the CEO, supported by EC, administers the CEA in a fair, consistent, effective and transparent manner.

  • Accessibility
    To increase accessibility of the electoral process by testing innovative ways to vote and offering electors additional ways to register.

  • Engagement
    (a) To increase young Canadians' understanding of the importance of voting and becoming candidates in elections.
    (b) To work more collaboratively with parliamentarians and political parties in further strengthening the electoral process.

EC employees must be guided by these objectives when conducting their work and taking decisions.

8. Statement of Values

TB's Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector lists the following five values: respect for democracy, respect for people, integrity, stewardship and excellence. These values, as described therein, must guide EC employees in all their day-to-day activities and interaction with other EC employees. EC employees must also be guided by these values when developing decision-making processes, measures, policies, processes and systems.

In addition to these values, EC employees must comply with the following values identified in EC's Strategic Plan 2008–2013:

  • a knowledgeable and professional workforce
  • transparency in everything we do
  • responsiveness to the needs of Canadians involved in the electoral process
  • cohesiveness and consistency in administering the CEA
  • continuously earning and maintaining the public's trust
  • stewardship and accountability in how we manage our resources

9. Expected Behaviours

In addition to the expected behaviours identified in TB's Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and the requirements to prevent and deal with conflict of interest and post-employment situations found in Appendix B of the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment, to uphold the values of this Code, EC employees must:

  • take informed decisions
  • act in a professional manner
  • be transparent in everything they do
  • be responsive to the needs of Canadians involved in the electoral process
  • be cohesive and consistent in their work
  • act continuously in a way to earn and maintain the public's trust
  • responsibly manage, use and care for public resources
  • take accountability for the manner in which they manage public resources
  • maintain political impartiality and neutrality

10. Implementation

This Code takes effect as of February 22, 2013.

11. Requests for information

EC employees are to contact the Human Resources Advisor assigned to their sector for any information concerning this Code.