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Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons (Undated)
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Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons
1. The purposes of this Code are to
(a) maintain and enhance public confidence and trust in the integrity of Members as well as the respect and confidence that society places in the House of Commons as an institution;
(b) demonstrate to the public that Members are held to standards that place the public interest ahead of their private interests and to provide a transparent system by which the public may judge this to be the case;
(c) provide for greater certainty and guidance for Members in how to reconcile their private interests with their public duties and functions; and
(d) foster consensus among Members by establishing common standards and by providing the means by which questions relating to proper conduct may be answered by an independent, non-partisan adviser.
2. Given that service in Parliament is a public trust, the House of Commons recognizes and declares that Members are expected
(a) to serve the public interest and represent constituents to the best of their abilities;
(b) to fulfill their public duties with honesty and uphold the highest standards so as to avoid real or apparent conflicts of interests, and maintain and enhance public confidence and trust in the integrity of each Member and in the House of Commons;
(c) to perform their official duties and functions and arrange their private affairs in a manner that bears the closest public scrutiny, an obligation that may not be fully discharged by simply acting within the law;
(d) to arrange their private affairs so that foreseeable real or apparent conflicts of interest may be prevented from arising, but if such a conflict does arise, to resolve it in a way that protects the public interest; and (e) not to accept any gift or benefit connected with their position that might reasonably be seen to compromise their personal judgment or integrity except in accordance with the provisions of this Code.
3.(1) The following definitions apply in this Code.
“benefit” means (a) an amount of money if there is no obligation to repay it; and (b) a service or property, or the use of property or money that is provided without charge or at less than its commercial value and includes a benefit received from a riding association or political party.
“Commissioner” means the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner appointed under section 81 of the Parliament of Canada Act.
“common-law partner”, with respect to a Member, means a person who is cohabiting with the Member in a conjugal relationship, having so cohabited for a period of at least one year.
“spouse”, with respect to a Member, does not include a person from whom the Member is separated where all support obligations and family property have been dealt with by a separation agreement or by a court order.
Furthering private interests.
(2) Subject to subsection (3), a Member is considered to further a person’s private interests, including his or her own private interests, when the Member’s actions result, directly or indirectly, in any of the following
(a) an increase in, or the preservation of, the value of the person’s assets;
(b) the extinguishment, or reduction in the amount, of the person’s liabilities;
c) the acquisition of a financial interest by the person;
(d) an increase in the person’s income from a source referred to in subsection 21(2);
(e) the person becoming a director or officer in a corporation, association or trade union; and
(f) the person becoming a partner in a partnership.
Not furthering private interests.
(3) For the purposes of this Code, a member is not considered to further his or her own private interests or the interests of another person if the mater in question
(a) is of general application;
(b) affects the Member or the other person as one of a broad class of the public; or
(c) concerns the remuneration or benefits of the Member as provided under an Act of Parliament.
(4) The e following are the members of a Member’s family for the purposes of this Code:
(a) the Member’s spouse or common-law partner; and
(b) a son or daughter of the Member, or a son or daughter of the Member’s spouse or common-law partner, who has not reached the age of 18 years or who has reached that age but is primarily dependent on the Member or the Member’s spouse or common-law partner for financial support.
Interpretation: purposes and principles.
3.1 In interpreting and applying Members’ obligations under this Code, the Commissioner may have regard to the purposes and principles in sections 1 and 2.
Application to members
4. The provisions of this Code apply to conflicts of interest of all Members of the House of Commons when carrying out the duties and functions of their office as Members of the House, including Members who are ministers of the Crown or parliamentary secretaries.
5. A Member does not breach this Code if the Member’s activity is one in which Members normally and properly engage on behalf of constituents.
Jurisdiction of the Board of Internal Economy.
6. Nothing in this Code affects the jurisdiction of the Board of Internal Economy of the House of Commons to determine the propriety of the use of any funds, goods, services or premises made available to Members for carrying out their parliamentary duties and functions.
Activities outside Parliament.
7. Nothing in this Code prevents Members who are not ministers of the Crown or parliamentary secretaries from any of the following, as long as they are able to fulfill their obligations under this Code:
(a) engaging in employment or in the practice of a profession;
(b) carrying on a business;
(c) being a director or officer in a corporation, association, trade union or non-profit organization; and
(d) being a partner in a partnership.
Rules of Conduct
Furthering private interest.
8. When performing parliamentary duties and functions, a Member shall not act in any way to further his or her private interests or those of a member of the Member’s family, or to improperly further another person’s or entity's private interests.
9. A Member shall not use his or her position as a Member to influence a decision of another person so as to further the Member’s private interests or those of a member of his or her family, or to improperly further another person’s or entity's private interests.
10.(1) A Member shall not use information obtained in his or her position as a Member that is not generally available to the public to further the Member’s private interests or those of a member of his or her family, or to improperly further another person’s or entity's private interests.
Information not to be communicated.
(2) A Member shall not communicate information referred to in subsection (1) to another person if the Member knows, or reasonably ought to know, that the information may be used to further the Member’s private interests or those of a member of his or her family, or to improperly further another person’s private interests.
11. A Member shall not attempt to engage in any of the activities prohibited under sections 8 to 10.
Disclosure of a private interest: House and committee.
12.(1) A Member who has a private interest that might be affected by a matter that is before the House of Commons or a committee of which the Member is a member shall, if present during consideration of the matter, disclose orally or in writing the general nature of the private interest at the first opportunity. The general nature of the private interest shall be disclosed forthwith in writing to the Clerk of the House. Subsequent disclosure.
(2) If a a Member becomes aware at a later date of a private interest that should have been disclosed in the circumstances of subsection (1), the Member shall make the required disclosure forthwith. Disclosure recorded.
(3) The Clerk of the House shall cause the disclosure to be recorded in the Journals and shall send the disclosure to the Commissioner, who shall file it with the Member’s public disclosure documents. Disclosure of a private interest: other circumstances.
(4) In any circumstances other than those in subsection (1) that involve the Member’s parliamentary duties and functions, a Member who has a private interest that might be affected shall disclose orally or in writing the general nature of the private interest at the first opportunity to the party concerned. The Member shall also file a notice in writing concerning the private interest with the Commissioner, who shall file it with the Member’s public disclosure documents.
Debate and voting.
13. A Member shall not participate in debate on or vote on a question in which he or she has a private interest. Private interest.
13.1 For the purpose of sections 12 and 13, “private interest” means those interests that can be furthered in subsection 3(2), but does not include the matters listed in subsection 3(3).
Prohibition: gifts and other benefits.
14.(1) Neither a Member or any member of a Member’s family shall accept, directly or indirectly, any gift or other benefit, except compensation authorized by law, that is related to the Member’s position.
(2) A Member or a member of the Member’s family may, however, accept gifts or other benefits received as a normal expression of courtesy or protocol, or within the customary standards of hospitality that normally accompany the Member’s position.
Statement: gift or other benefit.
(3) If gifts or other benefits that are accepted under subsection (2) exceed $500 in value, or if the total value of all such gifts or benefits received from one source in a 12-month period exceeds $500, the Member shall, within 60 days after receiving the gifts or other benefits, or after that total value is exceeded, file with the Commissioner a statement disclosing the nature of the gifts or other benefits, their source and the circumstances under which they were given.
(4) Any disclosure made pursuant to the requirements of section 15 does not need to be disclosed as a gift or other benefit under subsection (3).
15.(0.1) Despite subsection 14(1), a Member may accept, for the Member and guests of the Member, sponsored travel that arises from or relates to his or her position. Statement: sponsored travel. (1) If travel costs exceed $500 and those costs are not wholly or substantially paid from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or by the Member personally, his or her political party or any interparliamentary association or friendship group recognized by the House, the Member shall, within 60 days after the end of the trip, file a statement with the Commissioner disclosing the trip.
Content of statement.
(2) The statement shall disclose the name of the person or organization paying the travel costs, the name of any person accompanying the Member, the destination or destinations, the purpose and length of the trip, the nature of the benefits received and the value, including supporting documents for transportation and accommodation.
(3) By January 31 of each year, the Commissioner shall prepare a list of all sponsored travel, including the details set out in subsection (2), and the Speaker shall lay the list upon the Table when the House next sits.
16.(1) A Member shall not knowingly be a party, directly or through a subcontract, to a contract with the Government of Canada or any federal agency or body under which the Member receives a benefit unless the Commissioner is of the opinion that the contract is unlikely to affect the Member’s obligations under this Code.
(2) A Member may participate in a program operated or funded, in whole or in part, by the Government of Canada under which the Member receives a benefit if
(a) the Member meets the eligibility requirements of the program;
(b) the Member does not receive any preferential treatment with respect to his or her participation; and
(c) the Member does not receive any special benefit not available to other participants.
17.(1) A Member is not prohibited from owning securities in a public corporation that contracts with the Government of Canada unless the Commissioner is of the opinion that the size of the holdings is so significant that it is likely to affect the Member’s obligations under this Code.
(2) If the Commissioner is of the opinion that the Member’s obligations under this Code are likely to be affected under the circumstances of subsection (1), the Member may comply with the Code by placing the securities in a trust under such terms established in section 19 as the Commissioner considers appropriate.
Partnerships and private corporations.
18. A Member shall not have an interest in a partnership or in a private corporation that is a party, directly or through a subcontract, to a contract with the Government of Canada under which the partnership or corporation receives a benefit unless the Commissioner is of the opinion that the interest is unlikely to affect the Member’s obligations under this Code.
19.(1) Sections 16 and 18 do not apply to a contract that existed before the Member’s election to the House of Commons, but they do apply to its renewal or extension.
(2) Section 18 does not apply if the Member has entrusted his or her interest in a partnership or in a private corporation that is a party to a contract with the Government of Canada under which the partnership or corporation receives a benefit to one or more trustees on all of the following terms:
(a) the provisions of the trust have been approved by the Commissioner;
(b) the trustees are at arm’s length from the Member and have been approved by the Commissioner;
(c) the trustees may not consult with the Member with respect to managing the trust, but they may consult with the Commissioner;
(d) the trustees may, however, consult with the Member, with the approval of the Commissioner and in his or her presence if an extraordinary event is likely to materially affect the trust property;
(e) in the case of an interest in a corporation, the Member shall resign any position of director or officer in the corporation;
(f) the trustees shall provide the Commissioner with a written annual report at the same time as the Member files his or her annual disclosure statement setting out the nature of the trust property, the value of that property, the trust’s net income for the preceding year and the trustees’ fees, if any; and
(g) the trustees shall give the Member sufficient information to permit the Member to submit returns as required by the Income Tax Act and give the same information to the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.
Interest acquired by inheritance.
(3) Sections 16 to 18 do not apply to an interest acquired by inheritance until the first anniversary date of the acquisition
20.(1) A Member shall, within 60 days after the notice of his or her election to the House of Commons is published in the Canada Gazette, and annually on or before a date established by the Commissioner, file with the Commissioner a full statement disclosing the Member’s private interests and the private interests of the members of the Member’s family.
(2) Information relating to the private interests of the members of the Member’s family shall be to the best of the Member’s knowledge, information and belief. The Member shall make reasonable efforts to determine such information.
(3) The Commissioner shall keep the statement confidential.
Content of disclosure statement.
21.(1) The statement shall
(a) identify and state the value of each asset or liability of the Member and the members of the Member’s family that;
(i) in the case of a credit card balance, exceeds $10,000 and has been outstanding for more than six months;
(ii) in all other cases, exceeds $10,000; (b) state the amount and indicate the source of any income greater than $1,000 that the Member and the members of the Member’s family have received during the preceding 12 months and are entitled to receive during the next 12 months;
(b.1) Notwithstanding paragraph (b), every Member shall disclose to the Commissioner every trust known to the Member from which he or she could, currently or in the future, either directly or indirectly, derive a benefit or income;
(c) state all benefits that the Member and the members of the Member’s family, and any private corporation in which the Member or a member of the Member’s family has an interest, have received during the preceding 12 months, and those that the Member and the members of the Member’s family or corporation are entitled to receive during the next 12 months, as a result of a contract or subcontract with the Government of Canada, and describe the subject-matter and nature of each such contract;
(c.1) For the purpose of paragraph (1)(c), benefits include compensation resulting from expropriation by the Government of Canada;
(d) if the statement mentions a private corporation,
(i) include any information about the corporation’s activities and sources of income that the Member is able to obtain by making reasonable inquiries,
(ii) state the names of any other corporations with which that corporation is affiliated, and
(iii) list the names and addresses of all persons who have an interest in the corporation;
(iv) list the real property or immovables owned by the private corporation.
(e) list the directorships or offices in a corporation, trade or professional association or trade union held by the Member or a member of the Member’s family and list all partnerships in which he or she or a member of his or her family is a partner; and
(f) include any other information that the Commissioner may require.
Source of income.
(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(b), a source of income is
(a) in the case of income from employment, the employer;
(b) in the case of income from a contract, the party with whom the contract is made; and
(c) in the case of income arising from a business or profession,that business or profession. Statement: material change.
(3) The Member shall file a statement reporting any material change to the information required under subsection (1) to the Commissioner within 60 days after the change. Material change. (4) “Material change” means a change to any information contained in the disclosure summary pursuant to section 24.
Meeting with the Commissioner.
22. After reviewing a Member’s statement filed under section 20 or subsection 21(3), the Commissioner may require that the Member meet with the Commissioner, and may request the attendance of any of the members of the Member’s family, if available, to ensure that adequate disclosure has been made and to discuss the Member’s obligations under this Code.
23.(1) The Commissioner shall prepare a disclosure summary based on each Member’s statement filed under section 21 and submit it to the Member for review. Public inspection. (2) Each summary is to be placed on file at the office of the Commissioner and made available for public inspection during normal business hours, and posted on the website of the Commissioner. Each summary shall also be available to the public, on request, by fax or mail.
Content of disclosure summary.
24.(1) The summary shall (a) subject to subsection (3), set out the source and nature, but not the value, of the income, assets and liabilities referred to in the Member’s statement filed under section 20;
(b) identify any contracts with the Government of Canada referred to in that statement, and describe their subject-matter and nature;
(c) list the names of any affiliated corporations referred to in that statement;
(d) include a copy of any statements of disclosure filed by the Member under subsections 14(3), 15(1) and 21(3);
(e) list the positions and corporations, trade or professional associations and trade unions disclosed under paragraph 21(1)(e); and
(f) list any trusts disclosed under paragraph 21(1)(b.1).
Categorizations of interests.
(2) An interest in a partnership or corporation may be qualified in the summary by the word “nominal”, “significant” or “controlling” if, in the opinion of the Commissioner, it is in the public interest to do so.
Items not to be disclosed.
(3) The following shall not be set out in the summary:
(a) an asset or liability with a value of less than $10,000;
(b) a source of income of less than $10,000 during the 12 months before the relevant date;
(c) real property or immovables that the Member uses as a principal residence or uses principally for recreational purposes; (d) personal property or movable property that the Member uses primarily for transportation, household, educational, recreational, social or aesthetic purposes;
(e) cash on hand or on deposit with a financial institution that is entitled to accept deposits;
(f) fixed-value securities issued or guaranteed by a government or by a government agency;
(g) a registered retirement savings plan that is not self-administered or self-directed;
(h) investments in a registered retirement savings plan that is self-administered or self-directed that would not be publicly disclosed under this section if held outside the plan;
(i) an interest in a pension plan, employee benefit plan, annuity or life insurance policy;
(j) an investment in an open-ended mutual fund;
(k) a guaranteed investment certificate or similar financial instrument;
(k.1) any information relating to the place or manner of employment of a son or daughter of the Member, or a son or daughter of the Member’s spouse or common-law partner;
(l) any other asset, liability or source of income that the Commissioner determines should not be disclosed because
(i) the information is not relevant to the purposes of this Code, or
(ii) a departure from the general principle of public disclosure is justified in the circumstances.
25. A Member shall not take any action that has as its purpose the circumvention of the Member’s obligations under this Code.
Request for opinion
26.(1) In response to a request in writing from a Member on any matter respecting the Member’s obligations under this Code, the Commissioner shall provide the Member with a written opinion containing any recommendations that the Commissioner considers appropriate.
(2) The opinion is confidential and may be made public only by the Member, with his or her written consent or if the Member has made the opinion public.
(3) An opinion given by the Commissioner to a Member is binding on the Commissioner in relation to any subsequent consideration of the subject-matter of the opinion so long as all the relevant facts that were known to the Member were disclosed to the Commissioner.
(4) Nothing in this section prevents the Commissioner from publishing opinions for the guidance of Members, provided that no details are included that could identify the Member.
(5) In this section and in any other situation in which a Member seeks an opinion from the Commissioner, the Commissioner shall provide the opinion in a timely manner.
Request for an inquiry.
27.(1) A Member who has reasonable grounds to believe that another Member has not complied with his or her obligations under this Code may request that the Commissioner conduct an inquiry into the matter.
Form of request.
(2) The request shall be in writing, signed, and shall identify the alleged non-compliance and set out the reasonable grounds for that belief.
Direction by the House
(3) The House may, by way of resolution, direct the Commissioner to conduct an inquiry to determine whether a Member has complied with his or her obligations under this Code.
(3.1) The Commissioner shall forward without delay the request for an inquiry to the Member who is the subject of the request and afford the Member 30 days to respond.
(3.2) The Commissioner shall: :
(a) conduct a preliminary review of the request and the response to determine if an inquiry is warranted; and
(b) notify in writing both Members of the Commissioner’s decision within 10 workings days of receiving the response.
Initiative of Commissioner.
(4) If, after giving the Member concerned written notice and 30 days to respond to the Commissioner’s concerns, the Commissioner has reasonable grounds to believe that a Member has not complied with his or her obligations under this Code, the Commissioner may, on his or her own initiative, conduct an inquiry to determine whether the Member has complied with his or her obligations under this Code.
(5.1) Other than to confirm that a request for an inquiry has been received, or that a preliminary review or inquiry has commenced, or been completed, the Commissioner shall make no public comments relating to any preliminary review or inquiry.
(6) If the Commissioner is of the opinion that a request for an inquiry was frivolous or vexatious or was not made in good faith, the Commissioner shall so state in dismissing the request in a report under section 28(6) and may recommend that further action be considered against the Member who made the request.
Inquiry to be private.
(7) The Commissioner shall conduct an inquiry in private and with due dispatch, provided that at all appropriate stages throughout the inquiry the Commissioner shall give the Member reasonable opportunity to be present and to make representations to the Commissioner in writing or in person by counsel or by any other representative.
(8) Members shall cooperate with the Commissioner with respect to any inquiry.
Report to the House.
28.(1) Forthwith following an inquiry, the Commissioner shall report to the Speaker, who shall present the report to the House when it next sits.
Report to the public
(2) The report of the Commissioner shall be made available to the public upon tabling in the House, or, during a period of adjournment or prorogation, upon its receipt by the Speaker.
Report after dissolution.
(3) During the period following a dissolution of Parliament, the Commissioner shall make the report public.
(4) If the Commissioner concludes that there was no contravention of this Code, the Commissioner shall so state in the report.
(5) If the Commissioner concludes that a Member has not complied with an obligation under this Code but that the Member took all reasonable measures to prevent the non-compliance, or that the non-compliance was trivial or occurred through inadvertence or an error in judgment made in good faith, the Commissioner shall so state in the report and may recommend that no sanction be imposed.
(6) If the Commissioner concludes that a Member has not complied with an obligation under this Code, and that none of the circumstances in subsection (5) apply, or is of the opinion that a request for an inquiry was frivolous or vexatious or was not made in good faith, the Commissioner shall so state in the report and may recommend appropriate sanctions.
(7) The Commissioner shall include in the report reasons for any conclusions and recommendations.
(8) The Commissioner may include in his or her report any recommendations arising from the matter that concern the general interpretation of this Code and any recommendations for revision of this Code that the Commissioner considers relevant to its purpose and spirit.
Right to speak.
(9) Within 10 sitting days after the tabling of the report of the Commissioner in the House of Commons, the Member who is the subject of the report shall have a right to make a statement in the House immediately following Question Period, provided that he or she shall not speak for more than 20 minutes.
(10) A motion to concur in a report referred to in subsection (4) or (5) may be moved during Routine Proceedings. If no such motion has been moved and disposed of within 10 sitting days after the day on which the report was tabled, a motion to concur in the report shall be deemed to have been moved and adopted at the expiry of that time.
Report to be considered.
(11) A motion respecting a report referred to in subsection (6) may be moved during Routine Proceedings, when it shall be considered for no more than two hours, after which the Speaker shall interrupt any proceedings then before the House and put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment, every question necessary to dispose of the motion. During debate on the motion, no Member shall speak more than once or longer than ten minutes.
(12) If no motion pursuant to subsection (11) has been previously moved and disposed of, a motion to concur in the report shall be deemed to have been moved on the 30th sitting day after the day on which the report was tabled, and the Speaker shall immediately put every question necessary to dispose of the motion.
(13) At any point before the House has dealt with the report, whether by deemed disposition or otherwise, the House may refer it back to the Commissioner for further consideration, with instruction.
Suspension of inquiry.
29.(1) The Commissioner shall immediately suspend the inquiry into a matter if (a) there are reasonable grounds to believe that the Member has committed an offence under an Act of Parliament, in which case the Commissioner shall notify the proper authorities of the Commissioner’s belief; or
(b) it is discovered that:
(i) the act or omission under investigation is also the subject of an investigation to determine if an offence under an Act of Parliament has been committed, or
(ii) a charge has been laid with respect to that act or omission.
(2) The Commissioner shall not continue his or her inquiry until the other investigation or the charge regarding the act or omission has been finally disposed of.
Miscellaneous Guidelines and forms.
30.(1) The Commissioner shall submit any proposed procedural and interpretative guidelines and all forms relating to the Code to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for approval.
(2) Any guidelines and forms approved by the Committee shall be reported to the House and shall come into effect when the report is concurred in by the House.
Confidentiality until tabled.
(3) Until the guidelines and forms are reported to the House, they shall remain confidential.
Retention of documents.
31. The Commissioner shall retain all documents relating to a Member for a period of 12 months after he or she ceases to be a Member, after which the documents shall be destroyed unless there is an inquiry in progress under this Code concerning them or a charge has been laid against the Member under an Act of Parliament and the documents may relate to that matter.
31.1 Except as otherwise ordered by the House or a court, or as required for the purposes of this Code, the Commissioner shall keep confidential documents and information received pursuant to this Code, including documents and information received in the course of an inquiry that the Commissioner suspended in accordance to paragraph 29(1)(a) or documents and information referred to in section 31.
32. The Commissioner shall undertake educational activities for Members and the general public regarding this Code and the role of the Commissioner.
33. The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs shall, within every five-year period following the preceding comprehensive review, undertake a comprehensive review of the provisions and operation of this Code, and shall submit a report thereon, including a statement of any changes the Committee recommends.
Part of the Standing Orders.
34. This Code shall form part of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons.