Ottawa, May 30, 2022
Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion has released the 2021-2022 annual report on the administration of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons. It was tabled in Parliament today and is available on the Office's website.
The report highlights the activities and performance of the Office in the past fiscal year. Reflecting a commitment to transparency and accountability, it not only describes the Office’s work in a range of activity areas but tells the story of how that work supports the Commissioner’s mandate.
The Office dealt with higher than normal work volumes associated with administering the Code. By ensuring all advisory positions were staffed and streamlining administrative procedures, it was able to manage them efficiently and effectively and meet its service standards. The most significant workload increase resulted from the September 2021 election, after which the Office had to help all 338 Members complete the initial compliance process under the Code. By fiscal year-end, 75% of Members had fully completed their initial compliance and the Office posted their information in the public registry. The Office responded to over 600 requests for advice from Members, up 23% from the year before. It also focused on education and outreach activities to help Members understand their obligations under the Code and implemented a preventative approach to assuring compliance that includes giving Members proactive guidance.
The Office reviewed 25 concerns about potential contraventions of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, up 19%. It issued one inquiry report.
The Commissioner made three appearances before parliamentary committees. Invited by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to contribute to its review of the Code, he recommended six substantive amendments and a number of technical ones.
The Office’s public communications activities increased. To help educate the public about the regimes that the Office administers, the Commissioner accepted speaking engagements with organizations in Canada and other countries. The Office fielded nearly 3,500 information requests from the media and members of the public, up 66%. The Office also remained active in various networks of ethics practitioners.
Quotes from Commissioner Dion
“I aim to be as transparent as possible in my dealings with Parliament, regulatees and the public while respecting confidentiality requirements. This perspective is reflected in the annual report on the administration of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, which provides an inside look at what the Office does, how it does it and, perhaps most important, why.”
“The Office has evolved into a mature organization since it was created in its current form in 2007. Today, it is viewed as an authoritative source of information and expertise on conflict of interest matters. It has put in place administrative procedures that allow it to manage its work efficiently and effectively. As its administration of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons in 2021-2022 demonstrates, the Office has also developed the ability to accommodate significant fluctuations in its workload.”
“The most significant workload increase came from having to guide all 338 Members through the initial compliance process under the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons after the September 2021 general election. With the assistance of advisors in the Office, 75% of Members completed the initial compliance process by March 31. As of today, 92% of Members have done so.”
The Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons applies to all 338 elected Members of Parliament.
The Office maintains a searchable public registry of publicly declarable information about individual regulatees that the Commissioner is authorized to make public. There were over 65,000 public registry visits in 2021-2022, which is in line with the previous year.
The Office releases quarterly statistical reports in support of Commissioner Mario Dion’s commitment to making the Office and its work more transparent. They contain data on various activity areas, including the provision of direction and advice, education and outreach, and enforcement. The aggregated data for each fiscal year is included in the annual reports.
The Office publishes financial reports, proactively disclosing the Commissioner’s and employees' travel and hospitality expenses and the Office’s contracts over $10,000, and making available annual financial statements.
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, seven inquiry reports have been issued under the Code and the average time to complete an inquiry is just over five months.
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