Ottawa, June 10, 2021
Demonstrating an ongoing commitment to transparency, a pillar of effective conflict of interest regimes, Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion had his annual reports in respect of the administration of the Conflict of Interest Act and the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons tabled today in Parliament.
Outlining the Office’s activities and performance in 2020-2021 to support its vision and mission, which reflect the Commissioner’s mandate, the 2020-2021 annual reports are available on the Office’s website.
Despite adjustments for telework in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual reports show a steady volume of work, with the Commissioner and his advisors responding to over 2,200 requests from regulatees for confidential advice. Throughout the year, the Office surpassed its service standard in 90% of cases to respond within three days to requests for advice. In September 2020 and for the first time under section 41 of the Act, the Commissioner ordered nine current public office holders not to have official dealings with a former reporting public office holder, in response to a matter brought to light as a result of the pandemic.
Maintaining a focus on improving the knowledge base of all regulatees about the two regimes and strengthening outreach with key audiences, Commissioner Dion continued to provide educational sessions, develop proactive materials, and speak with various Canadian and international organizations about the role and function of the two regimes he administers. This included appearing before two parliamentary committees in November 2020 and, in March 2021, appearing before a United Kingdom parliamentary committee and participating in a discussion with members of the European Parliament.
Quotes from Commissioner Dion
“We were active on a range of fronts in 2020-2021. We gave regulatees direction and advice, sought to educate them about the rules and how to comply with them, and enforced the regimes through investigations and other compliance measures. We also engaged with organizations in Canada and around the world to share information and best practices.”
“We continued to support transparency by maintaining the public registry, a searchable database of compliance documents, and by sharing information on Twitter and through a range of public communications initiatives. We are as open and transparent as possible with the public, the media and, of course, our regulatees.”
- The Commissioner is required to present two separate annual reports to Parliament on the Office’s activities by June 30 of each year. One is on the administration of the Conflict of Interest Act and the other is on the administration of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons.
- The Act applies to nearly 2,900 reporting public office holders and public office holders without reporting obligations.
- The Code applies to all 338 elected Members of Parliament.
- In the spirit of transparency, the Office maintains a searchable public registry of publicly declarable information about individual regulatees that the Commissioner is authorized to make public. There were 39,296 public registry visits in 2020-2021, up 59% from the previous year.
- Barring exceptional circumstances, the Office’s target is to conduct investigations within a 12-month timeframe. Since Mario Dion’s appointment as Commissioner in 2018, the average time taken to complete an investigation under the Act or the Code is about eight months.
- The Office releases quarterly statistical reports in support of Commissioner Dion’s commitment to making the Office and its work more transparent and accountable. They contain data on various activity areas of the Office, including the provision of direction and advice to regulatees, education and outreach, and enforcement. The aggregated data for each fiscal year is published in its annual reports.