The Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons sets out the processes that must be followed for the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to investigate whether Members have failed to comply with their obligations under it. Investigations under the Code are called inquiries.
Request. Any Member of the House of Commons who has reasonable grounds to believe that another Member has contravened the Code may ask the Commissioner to investigate. A Request for an Inquiry form is available for Members' use. To be valid, a request must:
Be made in writing;
Be signed by the Member making the request;
Identify the alleged non-compliance; and
Set out the reasonable grounds for the Member’s belief that the Code has been contravened.
A Member who has requested an inquiry is not allowed to make any public comment relating to the request until the Commissioner confirms that the Member who is the subject of it has received a copy of the complaint or until 14 days after the Commissioner received the request, whichever is earlier.
The Commissioner may be directed to conduct an inquiry by a resolution of the House of Commons. He may also conduct one on his own initiative, if he has reasonable grounds to believe that a Member has contravened the Code.
If the Commissioner determines that a request for an inquiry was frivolous, vexatious or not made in good faith, he must state this reason in a report dismissing the request, and may recommend that action be considered against the Member who made the request.
Follow-up. When the Commissioner receives a valid request, he must:
Immediately forward the request to the Member named in it and give him or her 30 days to respond;
After receiving the Member’s response, conduct a preliminary review to determine if an inquiry is warranted; and
Within 15 working days of receiving the response, notify the originator of the request and the Member named in it whether or not he will conduct an inquiry.
Inquiry. Members subject to an inquiry are required to cooperate, and the Commissioner must give them an opportunity to be heard. All inquiries are conducted in confidence. The Code also prohibits the Commissioner from making any public comments relating to any preliminary review or inquiry.
Report. The Commissioner issues a report at the conclusion of an inquiry. If he finds that the Member has not complied with an obligation under the Code, he may recommend appropriate sanctions. He may also make recommendations concerning interpretations and revisions of the Code. The report is provided to the Speaker of the House of Commons for tabling, and it is also made public.
A separate backgrounder on this issue as it relates to the Conflict of Interest Act is available. Information for participants in the investigation process under either the Act or the Members’ Code (subjects, witnesses and counsel) is also available in a separate backgrounder.