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Political activities of ministers, ministers of state, parliamentary secretaries and ministerial staff during a federal election period

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This document is intended to provide general information about your obligations under the Conflict of Interest Act. It must be read in conjunction with other relevant information notices. Public office holders are encouraged to contact the Office for confidential advice about their individual situation. Please call 613-995-0721 or email ciec-ccie@parl.gc.ca.

This document intends to provide advice to ministers, ministers of state, parliamentary secretaries and ministerial staff and other reporting public office holders on how to meet their obligations under the Conflict of Interest Act during a federal election period.

An election period begins with the dissolution of Parliament—which terminates all business in the Senate and the House of Commons—and the issuance of writs for a general election. Unless Parliament is dissolved earlier, each general election is held on the third Monday of October in the fourth calendar year following polling day for the last general election, in accordance with the Canada Elections Act.


Source:  Subsection 15(4) of the Conflict of Interest Act

1. What is permitted under the Conflict of Interest Act?

While section 15 of the Act prohibits reporting public office holders from engaging in certain outside activities, nothing in that section prohibits or restricts the political activities[i] of a reporting public office holder. However, in the context of political activities such as fundraisers, ministers, ministers of state, parliamentary secretaries and ministerial staff must be mindful of the prohibition, under section 16, against personally soliciting funds from any person or organization if it would place them in a conflict of interest.

Furthermore, other Acts of Parliament, policies, or your terms and conditions of employment may prohibit you from engaging in certain political activities. It is recommended that you consult the appropriate departmental officials prior to engaging in any political activity.

2. What is required by the Conflict of Interest Act?

Unless you resigned or your position was terminated, you remain subject to the Conflict of Interest Act during election periods, even if you are on leave without pay. As a result, you must continue to comply with the Act's rules, including those regarding:

While parliamentary secretaries are no longer subject to the Act's compliance provisions, they are subject to its post-employment provisions[ii].

3. Are there other guidelines and policies?

You should be aware that other government guidelines and policies related to political activities may apply to you. For example:

Our Office does not administer these instruments and cannot give advice on how to comply with them.


i Political activities are not defined in the Act but are generally understood to include activities such as:
(a) carrying on any activity in support of, within or in opposition to a political party;
(b) carrying on any activity in support of or in opposition to a candidate before or during an election period; or
(c) seeking nomination as or being a candidate in an election before or during the election period.

ii Subsection 46(3), Parliament of Canada Act

In this video, Craig Fletcher from the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner provides some guidance for ministers, ministers of state, parliamentary secretaries and ministerial staff on how to meet their obligations under the Conflict of Interest Act during a federal election period. 

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