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House of Commons Procedure and Practice

Second Edition, 2009

 
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Members sit in the House of Commons to serve as representatives of the people who have elected them to that office. They have wide‑ranging responsibilities which include activities in the Chamber, committees, and their constituencies. As Professor C.E.S. Franks has noted:

The member of parliament represents his constituency through service in the House of Commons. This does not mean, however, that he spends most of this time sitting in the House, or even that attendance there is the most important part of his work. An MP spends far more of his working life outside the House than in it. … The job is people‑oriented, involving talking about and listening to ideas, proposals, and complaints, reconciling opposing viewpoints, explaining party or government policy to citizens and citizens’ views to party and government, getting action out of the government on problems of constituents, and examining how the government uses or abuses the power it exercises on behalf of the people of Canada.[277]

Besides participating in debates in the Chamber and in committees, and conveying their constituents’ views to the government and advocating on their behalf, Members also have responsibilities in many other areas:

*       they act as ombudsmen by providing information to constituents and resolving problems;

*       they act as legislators by either initiating bills of their own or proposing amendments to government and other Members’ bills;

*       they develop specialized knowledge in one or more of the policy areas dealt with by Parliament, and propose recommendations to the government; and

*       they represent the Parliament of Canada at home and abroad by participating in international conferences and official visits.

Members, once elected and sworn in, are bound to observe certain rules of conduct in carrying out their parliamentary functions. Although there is no statute which dictates a code of conduct for parliamentarians at the federal level, some provisions regarding the conduct of Members and conflict of interest matters exist in the Standing Orders of the House (including the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons),[278] the Parliament of Canada Act[279] and the Criminal Code.[280] Also in place is the Conflict of Interest Act[281] which governs the ethical conduct of public office holders, including Cabinet Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries. A number of these provisions are discussed later in this chapter.

*   Attendance

One of the Member’s primary duties is to attend the sittings of the House when it is in session, unless the Member has other parliamentary or official commitments, such as committee meetings, constituency work or parliamentary exchanges. This obligation is enshrined in Standing Order 15: “Every Member, being cognizant of the provisions of the Parliament of Canada Act, is bound to attend the sittings of the House, unless otherwise occupied with parliamentary activities and functions or on public or official business”.[282] The Speaker has traditionally discouraged Members from signalling the absence of another Member from the House because “there are many places that Members have to be in order to carry out all of the obligations that go with their office”.[283]

The Parliament of Canada Act provides for deductions for non‑attendance from the Member’s sessional allowance.[284] At the end of each month and at the end of each session, each Member is required to provide the Clerk of the House with a statement of the number of days of attendance during the month or session, as the case may be.[285] For the purposes of this declaration, those days on which a Member was absent due to illness, a military commitment, the adjournment of the House or because the Member was on “public or official business”, are considered days of attendance.[286] Since there is no regulatory mechanism to monitor Members’ attendance, calculations of Members’ allowances are made on the basis of their statements and deductions are made only where absences exceed 21 sitting days.[287]

While the Parliament of Canada Act gives the House the power to impose more stringent regulations respecting Members’ attendance or deductions from sessional allowances,[288] the presence of Members in the Chamber is largely a function of politics, not procedure or law. Consequently, it has fallen to the Whips to ensure an adequate representation of Members in the Chamber for debates and votes. Thus, through the use of a roster system and other controls, the Whips are able to regulate the attendance of Members in the Chamber, in committees and for other parliamentary functions.

*   Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons

On being elected, Members of the House of Commons become trustees of public confidence. Members must place the public’s interests over their private interests and derive no personal benefit or gain from their decisions. A number of statutory provisions and guidelines governing aspects of conflict of interest exist. The Parliament of Canada Act contains several conflict of interest provisions for Members pertaining to compensation for services rendered and trusts established by Members on being elected,[289] and the Conflict of Interest Act establishes conflict of interest rules for public office holders, including Ministers, Ministers of State and Parliamentary Secretaries.[290] In addition, all parliamentarians and public office holders are subject to the general provisions in the Criminal Code pertaining to corruption, including bribery, influence-peddling and breach of trust.[291]

In 2004, the House of Commons adopted the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons to guide Members in the ethical discharge of their duties. The Code also applies to Ministers, Ministers of State and Parliamentary Secretaries when they are acting as Members of the House and not as public office holders.[292] It sets down what constitutes private interests, potential conflicts of interest and disclosure requirements for both Members and their families. It also establishes the rules of conduct and procedures for resolving conflicts. The Code has four objectives:

(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 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.[293]

The establishment of the Code is a manifestation of the House’s right to regulate its internal affairs and to discipline its Members for misconduct. The Code forms part of the Standing Orders of the House[294] and oversight responsibility for the Code has been delegated to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.[295]

Historical Perspective

Since the early 1970s, there have been various attempts to define what constitutes a conflict of interest, and to devise rules prohibiting Members from improperly using their influence and insider information, and from furthering their private interests. In 1973, the federal government issued a green paper on “Members of Parliament and Conflict of Interest”.[296] During the next Parliament, the green paper was referred to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, which reported it back to the House with numerous recommendations.[297] In 1978, the government introduced legislation which would have extended the provisions in the green paper and incorporated some of the recommendations made by the Committee.[298] The bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections after second reading,[299] but Parliament was dissolved before the Committee could report back to the House.

In 1983, the government established a Task Force on Conflict of Interest to devise a conflict of interest regime whereby public confidence would be ensured and the integrity of the political process protected. In May 1984, the Task Force identified nine activities which involved conflicts of interest and recommended that these forms of conduct be dealt with, depending on the severity of the conflict, by means of a code of conduct.[300]

In 1985, the Standing Committee on Management and Members’ Services was asked to consider matters related to the establishment of a Register of Members’ Interests.[301] The Committee concluded that such a register was not warranted and that the then current conflict of interest laws were adequate.[302]

At the end of 1987 came the Report of the Parker Commission of Inquiry on Conflict of Interest regarding the allegations of conflict of interest involving Sinclair Stevens, the former Minister of Regional Industrial Expansion. Mr. Justice Parker made a number of recommendations, in particular a requirement that conflict of interest guidelines include public disclosure of a Minister’s assets, interests and activities. In 1988, the government introduced legislation which was referred to a legislative committee after second reading,[303] but Parliament was dissolved before the committee could report back.

Another conflict of interest bill was introduced during the Second Session (1989‑91) of the Thirty-Fourth Parliament[304] but was not proceeded with. Two similar bills were introduced during the Third Session (1991‑93): Bill C‑43, Members of the Senate and House of Commons Conflict of Interests Act;[305] and Bill C‑116, Conflict of Interests of Public Office Holders Act.[306] The House of Commons gave second reading to Bill C‑116 and referred it to the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and of the House of Commons on Conflict of Interests on March 30, 1993.[307] On June 3, 1993, the Special Joint Committee recommended to the House that the bill not be proceeded with.[308] The Thirty-Fourth Parliament was dissolved shortly thereafter.

Each bill provided for an annual declaration of the private interests of Senators, Members of the House of Commons, their spouses and dependent children to an independent three‑member conflict of interests commission. The bills also contained rules prohibiting the improper use of influence for personal ends; rules on gifts and on post‑employment conduct; and special rules for Ministers respecting their outside professional or business activities. Proposed penalties for non‑compliance ranged from fines to loss of the Member’s or Senator’s seat, but their imposition remained in the hands of the member’s chamber.

During the First Session (1994‑96) of the Thirty-Fifth Parliament, a special joint committee of the Senate and of the House of Commons was established to develop a code of conduct to guide parliamentarians in reconciling their official responsibilities with their personal interests, including their dealings with lobbyists.[309] The committee was re-established during the Second Session (1996‑97) and reported to the House on March 20, 1997 with the recommendation that the Senate and the House of Commons adopt a “Code of Official Conduct”.[310] The Thirty-Fifth Parliament was dissolved a month later, before the report, commonly known as the Milliken-Oliver Report after its Chairs, Peter Milliken (Kingston and the Islands) and Senator Donald Oliver, could be concurred in.

The formulation of a code of conduct did not resurface until 2002 during the Thirty-Seventh Parliament. Prime Minister Chrétien announced an eight-point plan of action on government ethics which, among other matters, called on Senators and Members to support a stand-alone code of conduct inspired by the 1997 Milliken-Oliver Report.[311] Later that year, a parliamentary ethics initiative was tabled in draft form in both chambers.[312] The initiative included a proposed code of conduct for parliamentarians as well as a draft bill amending the Parliament of Canada Act to establish the position of Ethics Commissioner. The initiative and draft legislation were considered by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs which concluded that a conflict of interest code should be adopted and administered by an Ethics Commissioner. However, the Committee proposed amendments to the draft legislation with respect to the appointment and tenure of the Ethics Commissioner.[313]

In April 2003, the government introduced legislation to amend the Parliament of Canada Act to establish the offices of the Senate Ethics Officer and the House of Commons Ethics Commissioner.[314] The duties and functions of these Officers of Parliament were to be determined by their respective chambers, and both Officers would enjoy the privileges and immunities of Parliament and its Members when carrying out those duties and functions. Eventually, in the spring of 2004, the legislation received Royal Assent.[315] The first Ethics Commissioner for the House of Commons was appointed on May 17, 2004.[316]

During this period, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs continued its consideration of the proposed code of conduct for Members of the House of Commons and presented four reports on the matter in 2003 and 2004.[317] The House adopted the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons on April 29, 2004.[318] It came into effect at the beginning of the Thirty-Eighth Parliament (2004‑05).

Rules of Conduct for Members

The provisions of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons apply to all Members when they are carrying out their parliamentary duties and functions.[319] Members may not act in any way to further their private interests, or improperly further or influence another person’s or entity’s private interests.[320]

Within 60 days of the publication of the notice of their election in the Canada Gazette, Members must file with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner a confidential statement disclosing all private interests such as assets, liabilities and outside activities as well as those of their family members.[321] The Commissioner prepares a summary of each Member’s confidential disclosure and the summary is available for public inspection upon request.[322]

If a matter in which a Member has a private interest is being discussed in the Chamber or in a committee of which he or she is a member, the Member must, if present during consideration of the matter, disclose at the first opportunity the general nature of the matter either orally or in writing to the Clerk of the House. The disclosure is recorded in the Journals and forwarded to the Commissioner who files it with the Member’s public disclosure statements.[323]

Members may not participate in debate or vote on questions in which they have a private interest.[324] Matters of general application or that affect Members or others as part of a broad class of the public are not included in this prohibition. Even voting a pay increase to Members themselves does not constitute a private interest because it applies to all Members.[325] As well, if a Member is a party to a legal action related to his or her activities as a Member, he or she may continue to debate and vote on related matters.[326] In the event the Member does vote on a matter in which he or she has a private interest, the vote may be questioned and eventually disallowed.[327]

In addition, the Code prohibits Members and members of their families from accepting gifts or benefits that are related to the Member’s position, with the exception of courtesy or protocol-related gifts and hospitality which Members would normally enjoy.[328]

Members are sometimes called upon to travel outside Canada in their capacity as Members of the House of Commons. When the travel costs exceed $500 and are not paid for wholly or substantially out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, by Members personally, their political party or an interparliamentary association or group recognized by the House, Members are required to disclose the trip to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner within 60 days.[329] By January 31 of each year, the Commissioner prepares a list of all sponsored travel for the previous calendar year and this list is tabled in the House by the Speaker at the first opportunity.[330]

If requested in writing, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner will provide Members with confidential written opinions on their obligations under the Code.[331]

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Inquiries

*   Initiating an Inquiry

The Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner may be called upon to conduct an inquiry into a Member’s compliance with the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons. Such an inquiry may be initiated in one of the following three ways.

First, if a Member has reasonable grounds to believe that another Member has not complied with the Code, he or she may ask the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to conduct an inquiry into the matter.[332] The request must be made in writing, identify the alleged non-compliance and set out the reasonable grounds for the belief that the Code has not been complied with.[333]

Second, the House may adopt a motion directing the Commissioner to conduct an inquiry to determine a Member’s compliance with the Code.[334]

Third, if the Commissioner has reasonable grounds to believe that a Member has not complied with the Code, he or she may initiate an inquiry.[335]

In 2006, before the opening of the Thirty-Ninth Parliament (2006‑08), the Commissioner was asked to conduct two inquiries. Before undertaking the inquiries, the Commissioner had to address two issues: one, whether the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons remains in force during a dissolution of Parliament; and two, given that Members cease to exist constitutionally when Parliament is dissolved, when do they regain the capacity to request inquiries. With respect to the first issue, the Commissioner determined that the Code remains in effect during a dissolution of Parliament because Members’ offices remain open in order to provide services to constituents and Members continue to receive certain salaries and benefits until the date of the general election. The Commissioner noted: “… it follows that Members should be expected to conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with the requirements of the Code. To do otherwise would be to accept that Members are free to further their private interests once Parliament is dissolved”.[336] With regard to the second issue, the Commissioner reasoned that once an individual’s notice of election has been published in the Canada Gazette, that person is recognized to be an “official” Member of Parliament and may make a request to the Commissioner to conduct an inquiry.[337]

*   Conduct of Inquiry

Upon receipt of a request from a Member to conduct an inquiry, the Commissioner forwards the request to the Member who is the subject of it and the Member has 30 calendar days to respond.[338] Upon receipt of the response, the Commissioner has 10 working days to conduct a preliminary review of the request and the response and to advise both Members whether or not there are reasonable grounds to proceed with an inquiry.[339] If, in the opinion of the Commissioner, the request is frivolous or vexatious or has not been made in good faith, the Commissioner will dismiss the request and report accordingly to the Speaker.[340] The Commissioner may recommend that action be considered against the Member who made the request.[341]

When the Commissioner is instructed by means of a resolution of the House to conduct an inquiry into a Member’s compliance or non-compliance with the Code, the Commissioner proceeds immediately with the inquiry; the preliminary review process does not occur.

In the case of an inquiry initiated by the Commissioner, the Member is given written notice of the Commissioner’s concerns and 30 calendar days to respond to them.[342] Upon receipt of the Member’s response, the Commissioner may conduct an inquiry to determine the compliance or non-compliance with the Code.[343]

The Code compels the Commissioner to conduct an inquiry in private and in a timely manner.[344] The Commissioner is required to give the Member whose conduct is under investigation a reasonable opportunity to be present and to make representations to the Commissioner in writing, in person or by counsel or other representative.[345]

The Commissioner shall immediately suspend an inquiry if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the Member has committed an offence under an act of Parliament; the Commissioner will also notify the proper authorities.[346] The Commissioner must also suspend the inquiry if he or she learns that the matter is under investigation by another authority or if a charge has been laid against the Member.[347] The Commissioner may only continue the inquiry after the outside investigation has concluded or the charge has been disposed of.[348]

Prior to June 2007, the Code prohibited Members from commenting on inquiries being undertaken by the Commissioner. The Speaker had to remind Members of this provision on a number of occasions during Question Period.[349] The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs recommended that this provision be deleted as it was both “unenforceable and an unwarranted restriction on freedom of speech” and the House agreed.[350]

*   Report on Inquiry

Upon completion of an inquiry, the Commissioner presents his or her report to the Speaker who tables it in the House; the report is also made available to the public.[351] The Commissioner is required to report one of three possible outcomes and to include reasons for any conclusions and recommendations.[352]

If the Commissioner concludes that the Code was not contravened, he or she reports accordingly.[353] If the Commissioner finds that there was a mitigated contravention of the Code (i.e., the Member either took all reasonable measures to prevent the non-compliance or that the non-compliance was trivial, occurred through inadvertence or an error in judgement made in good faith), he or she may recommend in the report that no sanctions be imposed.[354] If the Commissioner concludes that a Member has not complied with the Code, and that none of these mitigating circumstances apply, he or she may recommend appropriate sanctions.[355]

In his or her report, the Commissioner may include any recommendations arising from the matter that concern the general interpretation of the Code and any recommendations for revision of the Code that the Commissioner considers relevant to its purposes and spirit.[356]

*   Statement by Member

Within 10 sitting days of the tabling of the report, the Member who is the subject of such a report may make a statement in the House. The Member notifies the Speaker of his or her intention to do so on a given sitting day. Following Question Period on the designated day, the Speaker recognizes the Member who may speak for no more than 20 minutes. No other Members are permitted to participate.[357]

*   Consideration of Inquiry Report

Inquiry reports may be considered by the House. A motion to concur in either a report where no contravention of the Code has been found or in a report where there is a mitigated contravention of the Code may be moved by any Member. The motion is moved under the rubric “Motions” during Routine Proceedings after 48 hours’ notice.[358] Members may speak only once and for no longer than 20 minutes; each 20‑minute speech is followed by a 10‑minute period for questions and comments.[359] If debate is adjourned or interrupted, the motion is transferred to Government Orders.[360] Debate may be resumed at the prerogative of the government within 30 sitting days of the tabling of the report. If debate is not resumed by the expiry of the 30 sitting days, a motion to concur in the report is deemed to have been adopted.[361]

If no concurrence motion is moved with respect to a report where there is either no contravention of the Code or a mitigated contravention of the Code, a motion to concur in the report is deemed to have been moved and adopted at the time of adjournment on the 30th sitting day following the tabling of the report.[362]

In the case of a report where an unmitigated contravention has been found, a Member may move a motion respecting the report under the rubric “Motions” during Routine Proceedings after 48 hours’ notice.[363] The motion is considered for no more than two hours, after which the Speaker interrupts the debate and puts all questions to dispose of the motion and any amendment forthwith. During debate, Members may speak only once and for no longer than 10 minutes.[364] Each 10-minute speech is followed by a five‑minute questions and comments period.[365] If no motion respecting such a report is moved and disposed of before the 30th sitting day following the tabling of the report, a motion to concur in the report will be deemed to have been moved on the 30th sitting day under the rubric “Motions” during Routine Proceedings. The Speaker puts every question necessary to dispose of the motion at that time.[366]

The House may refer a report back to the Commissioner for further consideration with instructions.[367] The Commissioner reconsiders the report in light of the concerns expressed by the House and provides the Speaker with a response which is tabled in the House.[368]

*   Conflict of Interest Act and the Code of Conduct for Public Office Holders

From 1973 until 2004, Prime Ministers issued conflict of interest guidelines for Ministers and other public office holders at the beginning of their term in office, although there was no statutory requirement to do so.[369] Also known as the Prime Minister’s Code, the Conflict of Interest and Post‑Employment Code for Public Office Holders was voluntary and applied to Cabinet Ministers, Secretaries of State, Parliamentary Secretaries and other senior public office holders (full‑time Governor in Council appointees). While the Code varied slightly with each new administration, it required, in general, that, on appointment to one of these offices, the office holders were to arrange their private affairs so as to prevent real, potential or apparent conflicts from arising. They were not to solicit or accept money or gifts; not to assist individuals in their dealings with government in such a way as to compromise their own professional status; not to take advantage of information obtained because of their positions as insiders; and, after they left public office, not to act so as to take improper advantage of having held that office. After leaving office, Ministers and other public office holders were prohibited for a set period of time from certain activities in order to ensure neutrality while in office and to avoid preferential treatment upon leaving office. These guidelines were administered by an ethics counsellor who was a public servant reporting directly to the Prime Minister.[370]

In 2004, the Parliament of Canada Act was amended to require the Prime Minister to establish ethical principles, rules and obligations for public office holders and to table them before each House of Parliament within 30 days of assuming office. The position of Ethics Commissioner was created to administer these rules.[371] On July 9, 2007, the non-statutory Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders was replaced by the Conflict of Interest Act.[372]

The Conflict of Interest Act establishes conflict of interest and post-employment rules for public office holders, which include Ministers, Ministers of State, Parliamentary Secretaries, ministerial staff and advisers, and certain Governor in Council appointees.[373] The Act defines “conflict of interest”;[374] outlines the general duties of public office holders; identifies prohibitions with respect to political and fundraising activities; and sets down rules respecting the acceptance of gifts, hospitality and other benefits.[375] In addition, the Act establishes compliance measures and disclosure requirements.[376] Finally, the Act fixes rules for post-employment activities.[377] The Act does not prohibit a public office holder, who is also a Member of the House of Commons, from engaging in activities he or she would normally carry out as a Member.[378] Public office holders who contravene certain provisions of the Act are liable to an administrative monetary penalty not exceeding $500.[379]

The Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner is responsible for administering and enforcing the Conflict of Interest Act.[380] The Commissioner ensures that each public office holder has met his or her obligations under the Act and is in compliance with its disclosure requirements.[381] The Commissioner may also conduct an examination into the conduct of a public office holder at the request of a member of the Senate or the House of Commons or on his or her own initiative.[382] At the conclusion of the inquiry, the Commissioner prepares a report for the Prime Minister and provides the public office holder who is the subject of the report with a copy. The report is also made public.[383]

*   Parliamentary Committees and Conflict of Interest Matters

Two standing committees have mandates with respect to conflict of interest matters.[384] In accordance with the Parliament of Canada Act, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner performs his or her functions as they relate to Members of the House of Commons under the general direction of a committee designated by the House for this purpose.[385] Pursuant to the Standing Orders, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has the mandate to review and report on all matters relating to the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons and on the annual report of the Commissioner with respect to his or her responsibilities relating to Members.[386] In addition, the Committee is charged with undertaking a comprehensive review of the Code’s provisions and operations every five years.[387]

The Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics has the mandate to review and report on the management, operations and estimates of the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.[388] This Committee also reviews and reports on any of the Commissioner’s reports with respect to his or her responsibilities relating to public office holders.[389] In addition, when the government intends to appoint a Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, the Committee considers the proposed appointment.[390] In cooperation with other committees, this Committee has the mandate to review and report on federal legislation and regulations as well as any Standing Order which impacts on the ethical standards of public office holders.[391] Finally, the Committee’s mandate includes the “proposing, promoting, monitoring and assessing of initiatives which relate to … ethical standards relating to public office holders”.[392]

The Conflict of Interest Act requires that there be a five-year comprehensive review of the Act by a committee of either or both Houses of Parliament.[393]

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[277] Franks, C.E.S., The Parliament of Canada, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987, p. 87. For additional information on the role of the Member, see Fraser, pp. 58‑63; Commission to Review Allowances of Members of Parliament, Supporting Democracy, Vol. 2, Ottawa: Minister of Public Works and Government Services, 1998, pp. 59‑83.

[278] Standing Orders 15 to 23. The Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons is appended to the Standing Orders and contains provisions requiring Members to register foreign travel in certain instances and disclose any private interest in a question before a vote, among other matters. A number of other obligations, including dress code and decorum, are discussed in Chapter 13, “Rules of Order and Decorum”.

[279] R.S. 1985, c. P‑1. For example, the Parliament of Canada Act prohibits Members from entering into a contract directly with the Government of Canada or from receiving any benefit under contract with the Government of Canada (s. 32(1)).

[280] R.S. 1985, c. C‑46. The most serious breaches of ethical behaviour (bribery, influence peddling and breach of trust) are dealt with in the Criminal Code.

[281] As enacted by S.C. 2006, c. 9, s. 2.

[282] Prior to 1994, Standing Order 15 read as follows: “Except as otherwise provided in these Standing Orders, every Member is bound to attend the service of the House, unless leave of absence has been given him or her by the House”. This Standing Order had remained unchanged since 1867. During the early years of Confederation, a Member who wanted permission to be absent from the House sought the necessary leave through another Member, who moved a motion to that effect. The usual reason for seeking leave was illness, but other family and personal reasons were commonly given (see, for example, Journals, May 8, 1868, p. 301; February 15, 1871, p. 10; April 13, 1877, p. 257). The last time a Member was granted a formal leave of absence was in 1878 when it was done by means of a resolution (Journals, April 26, 1878, p. 220). After 1878, the rule was no longer applied; the House chose to rely instead on statutory provisions which provided for monetary penalties for non‑attendance (An Act respecting the Senate and the House of Commons, R.S. 1884, c. 10, s. 26). In 1994, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs expressed concern that the Standing Order was obsolete and did not reflect that Members are often prevented from attending a sitting of the House because of committee meetings or other parliamentary or constituency commitments (Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence, March 24, 1994, Issue No. 5, pp. 32‑4; May 24, 1994, Issue No. 12, p. 6; June 9, 1994, Issue No. 16, p. 3). See also the transcript of the unpublished meeting of May 3, 1994, pp. 1‑10. On June 10, 1994, the House concurred in the Twenty‑Seventh Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs which included the amended wording for Standing Order 15 (Journals, June 8, 1994, p. 545; June 10, 1994, p. 563).

[283] Debates, April 3, 1987, p. 4875. See also Debates, February 18, 1994, pp. 1553‑4; June 21, 1994, p. 5674; December 5, 1995, pp. 17207‑8; April 19, 2005, p. 5281.

[284] R.S. 1985, c. P‑1, s. 57(1). The deduction of $120 is made from the Member’s sessional allowance for each day beyond 21 days in the session in which a Member does not attend a sitting for reasons other than illness or official business.

[285] Parliament of Canada Act, R.S. 1985, c. P‑1, s. 65(1).

[286] Parliament of Canada Act, R.S. 1985, c. P‑1, ss. 57(3) and 58.

[287] Parliament of Canada Act, R.S. 1985, c. P‑1, s. 57(1).

[288] R.S. 1985, c. P‑1, s. 59.

[289] R.S. 1985, c. P‑1, ss. 41 and 41.1 to 41.5. Contravening these provisions may result in a fine between $500 and $2000. In the event that a Member is found guilty of accepting compensation for services rendered, the Member is also disqualified from sitting in the House of Commons or holding any government office. Members are also required to disclose to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner every trust from which they could, currently or in the future, either directly or indirectly, derive a benefit or income. The Commissioner is required to order a trust terminated, if possible, or at least order the Member not to use any benefit or income for nomination, leadership or election campaign expenses.

[290] As enacted by S.C. 2006, c. 9, s. 2.

[291] R.S. 1985, c. C‑46, ss. 121, 122, 124 and 125. For example, a breach of trust occurs when a Member pays a person for work not performed, accepts payment from a person in return for hiring that person as an employee or contractor, or uses public funds for private travel. Should a person be convicted of one of these offences and sentenced to not more than five years of imprisonment, that person is incapable of being elected or sitting or voting as a Member of Parliament. In addition, the Criminal Code provides for 14 years’ imprisonment for a parliamentarian who accepts or attempts to obtain any form of valuable consideration for doing or omitting to do anything in his or her official capacity (s. 119). Since 1960, a number of Members have been charged under the Criminal Code with fraud, bribery, influence‑peddling and breach of trust in their official capacity as a Member. In many instances, the charges were either dropped, the Member was acquitted, or the Member was found not guilty. In the few cases where a Member has been found guilty of one of these charges (in some instances only after the Parliament in which they were charged had been dissolved), only one Member has resigned his seat (Debates, May 24, 1989, pp. 2095‑7; May 30, 1989, p. 2321); the others chose either not to seek re‑election or were defeated in the following general election.

[292] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 4.

[293] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 1.

[294] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 34.

[295] Standing Order 108(3)(a)(viii).

[296] Journals, July 17, 1973, p. 485. A green paper is a document containing government policy proposals, issued for discussion purposes.

[297] Journals, November 27, 1974, p. 149; December 10, 1974, pp. 183‑4; June 10, 1975, pp. 615‑8.

[298] Journals, October 16, 1978, p. 22 (Bill C‑6, An Act respecting the independence of Parliament and conflicts of interests of Senators and Members of the House of Commons and to amend certain other Acts in relation thereof or in consequence).

[299] Journals, March 8, 1979, pp. 454‑5.

[300] Task Force on Conflict of Interest, Ethical Conduct in the Public Sector, Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services Canada, May 1984, tabled on May 28, 1984 (Journals, p. 484).

[301] Journals, November 25, 1985, pp. 1266‑7.

[302] Journals, March 26, 1986, p. 1926. See also Standing Committee on Management and Members’ Services, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence, March 19, 1986, Issue No. 4, pp. 5‑7.

[303] Journals, September 1, 1988, p. 3508 (Bill C‑114, Members of the Senate and House of Commons Conflict of Interest Act).

[304] Journals, November 9, 1989, p. 842 (Bill C‑46, Members of the Senate and House of Commons Conflict of Interest Act).

[305] Journals, November 22, 1991, pp. 715‑6, 717‑8; June 10, 1992, p. 1677. See also the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on Conflict of Interests, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence, June 9, 1992, Issue No. 17.

[306] Journals, March 11, 1993, pp. 2618‑9.

[307] Journals, March 30, 1993, pp. 2742‑3.

[308] Journals, June 3, 1993, p. 3107.

[309] Journals, June 19, 1995, pp. 1801‑3.

[310] Journals, March 12, 1996, pp. 83‑4; March 20, 1997, p. 1325; Second Report of the Special Joint Committee on a Code of Conduct (Proceedings, March 20, 1997, Issue No. 6, pp. 7‑21).

[311] Debates, May 23, 2002, pp. 11636-7. The plan of action broadly outlined an initiative to strengthen and shore up ethics throughout Parliament, the Cabinet and the public service. The guide for Ministers and Ministers of State, which had existed since 1993 and outlined the guiding standards of ethical conduct, was to be made public, as were the guidelines governing ministerial fundraising for political purposes. The government also proposed fundamental changes to the Canada Elections Act governing the financing of political parties and candidates for office as well as changes to the Lobbyists Registration Act to enhance clarity, transparency and enforcement.

[312] Journals of the Senate, October 23, 2002, pp. 83‑4, Journals, p. 99.

[313] Twenty-Seventh Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House on April 10, 2003 (Journals, p. 678).

[314] Journals, April 30, 2003, p. 715.

[315] Journals, March 31, 2004, p. 243.

[316] In 2007, the title of this position was changed to Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. For further information, see the section in this chapter entitled “Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner”.

[317] Journals, June 13, 2003, p. 934 (Fortieth Report); October 30, 2003, pp. 1208-9 (Fifty‑First Report and Fifty-Second Report; see also Journals, November 3, 2003, p. 1221); April 27, 2004, p. 319 (Twenty-Fifth Report).

[318] Journals, April 29, 2004, pp. 348-9. In 2007 and 2008, the House adopted amendments to the Code. See the Fifty-Fourth Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House on June 11, 2007 and concurred in the same day (Journals, p. 1503) and the supply day motion adopted on June 5, 2008 (Journals, pp. 918-21). The Code does not affect the jurisdiction of the Board of Internal Economy to determine the propriety of the use of goods, funds, services, or premises that are made available to Members to carry out their parliamentary functions (Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 6).

[319] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 4. For greater clarity, section 5 states: “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”. In addition, the Code further stipulates that a Member who is neither a Minister nor a Parliamentary Secretary may continue certain professional or business activities outside of Parliament as long as the Member is able to fulfill his or her obligations under the Code (s. 7).

[320] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, ss. 3(2) and 8 to 11. See also ss. 16 to 19 which discuss Members’ obligations with respect to government contracts, ownership of securities in public corporations and interests in partnerships and private corporations.

[321] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, ss. 20 and 21. Members must also report any material change in this information to the Commissioner within 60 days.

[322] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, ss. 23 and 24. See also the Seventh Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House on May 19, 2006 (Journals, p. 200), in which disclosure guidelines were provided to the Commissioner. The House concurred in the report on May 30, 2006 (Journals, p. 209).

[323] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 12(1) and (3). If the Member becomes aware at a later date that he or she should have disclosed a private interest, the Member will advise the Clerk immediately (s. 12(2)). See, for example, Journals, May 14, 2008, p. 822. In circumstances other than the consideration of a matter in the House or in a committee in which a Member has a private interest, the Member advises the Commissioner in writing (s. 12(4)).

[324] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 13. See also Conflict of Interest Act, S.C. 2006, c. 9, ss. 6(2) and 21. Section 6(2) states: “No minister of the Crown, minister of state or parliamentary secretary shall, in his or her capacity as a member of the Senate or the House of Commons, debate or vote on a question that would place him in a conflict of interest”.

[325] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, ss. 3(3)(a), (b) and (c) and 13.1. This interpretation also applies to Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries (see the definition of “private interests” in section 2 of the Conflict of Interest Act (S.C. 2006, c. 9)). This topic is also discussed in Chapter 13, “Rules of Order and Decorum”.

[326] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 3(3)(b.1). In November 2007, David Tilson (Dufferin–Caledon) asked the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to determine whether Robert Thibault (West Nova) had breached his obligations under the Code (specifically paragraph 3(2)(a), section 8, subsections 12(1) and (4) and section 13) by participating in debate and voting on motions in connection with the review being conducted by the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics into the settlement former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney had received from the government in 1997 (Mr. Mulroney had successfully sued the government for libellous comments with respect to the purchase of Airbus airplanes by Air Canada in 1988). Mr. Mulroney had instituted legal proceedings against Mr. Thibault for comments he had made about the former Prime Minister in a television broadcast prior to the start of the Committee’s review. Mr. Tilson believed that Mr. Thibault should have recused himself from the Committee’s proceedings because of these legal proceedings. After review, the Commissioner determined that Mr. Thibault had a private interest in the proceedings before the Committee and, by failing to disclose the matter or recuse himself, he had not complied with certain sections of the Code. The Commissioner observed, however, that Mr. Thibault made an “error of judgement … in good faith” and invited the House of Commons to consider whether Members wished to amend the Code. See Report of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner entitled “The Thibault Inquiry”, tabled in the House on May 7, 2008 (Journals, p. 783). Some Members expressed concern that if being a defendant in a libel suit was considered having a private interest in a matter, Members’ privilege of freedom of speech could be limited by the filing of lawsuits. See the question of privilege raised by Derek Lee (Scarborough–Rouge River) on May 26, 2008 (Debates, pp. 6006-10). On June 5, 2008, the House debated and subsequently adopted a motion amending the Code to clarify that a Member is not considered to be furthering his or her own private interests if he or she participates in debate on a matter while being a party to a legal action related to that matter. In addition, the House referred the Report back to the Commissioner for reconsideration. See Journals, June 5, 2008, pp. 918-21. On June 17, 2008, the Speaker tabled the Commissioner’s response in which she concluded that Mr. Thibault would not have failed to comply with the Code had the amendment been part of the Code at the time of the investigation (Journals, p. 1000). See also Speaker Milliken’s ruling on Mr. Lee’s question of privilege and the motion subsequently adopted by the House (Journals, June 17, 2008, pp. 1003, 1006, Debates, pp. 7072‑4).

[327] Prior to October 2004 when the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons came into force, Standing Order 21, since deleted, prohibited Members from voting on a matter in which they had a pecuniary interest. When a Member’s vote was questioned, his or her word usually prevailed (see, for example, Debates, June 4, 1900, cols. 6607‑8), although the Member’s vote could have been challenged by way of a motion to disallow it. The only time this was attempted, the question was not proposed to the House (Debates, May 22, 1956, pp. 4244‑5). While no Member’s vote has been disallowed by the House on grounds of direct pecuniary interest, several Members have either voluntarily refrained from voting (see, for example, Debates, September 10, 1985, p. 6473; November 25, 1985, p. 8794; May 27, 1996, p. 3041; June 12, 2003, p. 7178) or had their votes questioned (see, for example, Debates, May 3, 1886, p. 1011; June 21, 1982, pp. 18708‑9). In December 1997, the Minister of Finance (Paul Martin) rose on a point of order to indicate that in the process of the House agreeing to apply the results of one vote to another vote, he had been registered as voting for the third reading of a bill in which he had an interest (Bill C‑9, Canada Marine Act). He asked for and received the unanimous consent of the House to have his vote deleted from the record (Debates, December 9, 1997, pp. 3007‑9, 3011).

[328] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 14(1) and (2). If the gifts or benefits exceed $500 or if the total value of all gifts and benefits from one source exceeds $500 in a 12-month period, the Member must disclose this information to the Commissioner within 60 days (s. 14(3)).

[329] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 15(1) and (2). Prior to the adoption of the Code in 2004, Standing Order 22, since deleted, required Members to register trips and the name of the sponsoring individual or organization with the Clerk of the House who kept a public record of this information.

[330] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 15(3). See, for example, Journals, January 31, 2005, p. 360; April 4, 2006, p. 15; January 31, 2007, p. 945; January 31, 2008, p. 365.

[331] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 26.

[332] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 27(1).

[333] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 27(2).

[334] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 27(3).

[335] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 27(4).

[336] Report of the Ethics Commissioner entitled “The Gallant Inquiry”, dated June 2006, tabled in the House on June 21, 2006 (Journals, p. 335), p. 9. To support this conclusion, the Commissioner also referred to section 20 of the Conflict of Interest Code which requires Members to file disclosure statements within 60 days of the notification of their election appearing in the Canada Gazette as well as to section 28(3) which requires the Commissioner to make inquiry reports public after a dissolution of Parliament. See also Report of the Ethics Commissioner entitled “The Harper-Emerson Inquiry”, dated March 2006, tabled in the House on April 4, 2006 (Journals, p. 15), p. 10.

[337] Report of the Ethics Commissioner entitled “The Harper-Emerson Inquiry”, dated March 2006, tabled in the House on April 4, 2006 (Journals, p. 15), pp. 9-10.

[338] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 27(3.1).

[339] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 27(3.2).

[340] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 27(6).

[341] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 27(6).

[342] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 27(4). In 2005, Deepak Obhrai (Calgary East) raised a question of privilege with respect to an inquiry that had been undertaken by the Ethics Commissioner. The Member alleged that the Commissioner had not advised him in writing of an inquiry into his conduct pursuant to s. 27(4) of the Code. He also accused the Commissioner of not following other proper processes (Debates, September 26, 2005, pp. 8025-7). Speaker Milliken ruled that since neither the Parliament of Canada Act nor the Code provided a protocol for the resolution of such complaints, it would be beneficial for both the House and the Commissioner if the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs considered the matter. Consequently, the Speaker ruled that the issue constituted a prima facie matter of privilege and it was referred by the House to the Procedure and House Affairs Committee (Journals, October 6, 2005, p. 1119, Debates, pp. 8473-4). After investigation, the Committee found that the Ethics Commissioner was in contempt of the House. However, the Committee did not recommend any sanction or penalty because the Commissioner’s non‑compliance with the Code had not been deliberate or intentional (Fifty-First Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House on November 18, 2005 (Journals, pp. 1289-90)).

[343] See, for example, Report of the Ethics Commissioner entitled “The Obhrai Inquiry”, dated March 2007, tabled by the Speaker on March 30, 2007 (Journals, p. 1195).

[344] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 27(7). In addition, section 27(5.1) of the Code prohibits the Commissioner from commenting publicly on any preliminary review or inquiry.

[345] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 27(7).

[346] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 29(1)(a).

[347] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 29(1)(b).

[348] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 29(2). See, for example, Report of the Ethics Commissioner entitled “The Obhrai Inquiry”, dated March 2007, tabled in the House on March 30, 2007 (Journals, p. 1195), p. 5.

[349] See, for example, Debates, April 19, 2005, p. 5284; June 6, 2005, p. 6657; June 7, 2005, pp. 6737-8.

[350] Fifty-Fourth Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House on June 11, 2007 and concurred in the same day (Journals, p. 1503), par. 24.

[351] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 28(1). See, for example, Journals, June 22, 2005, p. 957; March 30, 2007, p. 1195. If Parliament is adjourned, prorogued or dissolved, the Commissioner sends the report to the Speaker and then makes it public (s. 28(2) and (3)). The report is included in the Journals on the first sitting day thereafter. See, for example, Journals, April 4, 2006, p. 15; September 18, 2006, p. 370.

[352] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 28(7).

[353] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 28(4). See, for example, Report of the Ethics Commissioner entitled “The Obhrai Inquiry”, dated March 2007 (Journals, March 30, 2007, p. 1195); Report of the Ethics Commissioner entitled “The Smith Inquiry”, dated December 2005 (Journals, April 4, 2006, p. 15).

[354] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 28(5). See, for example, Report of the Ethics Commissioner on an inquiry in relation to the Honourable Member for Newton–North Delta (Journals, June 22, 2005, p. 957); Report of the Ethics Commissioner entitled “The Vellacott Inquiry”, dated June 2006 (Journals, September 18, 2006, p. 370); Report of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner entitled “The Thibault Inquiry”, dated May 7, 2008 (Journals, May 7, 2008, p. 783).

[355] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 28(6).

[356] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 28(8). See, for example, Report of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner entitled “The Thibault Inquiry”, tabled by the Speaker on May 7, 2008 (Journals, p. 783), p. 24.

[357] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 28(9). See, for example, Journals, September 21, 2006, p. 413, Debates, pp. 3095‑8; Journals, April 19, 2007, p. 1239, Debates, pp. 8456-7. No period for questions and comments follows the speech.

[358] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 28(10).

[359] Standing Order 43(1)(b).

[360] Standing Order 66.

[361] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 28(10).

[362] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 28(10). See, for example, Journals, April 28, 2006, p. 108; September 28, 2006, p. 471; September 29, 2006, p. 477; April 27, 2007, p. 1275.

[363] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 28(11). The motion could be other than the usual motion to concur in the report, e.g., that Recommendation 1 be adopted but Recommendation 2 be negatived.

[364] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 28(11).

[365] Standing Order 43(1)(c).

[366] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 28(12).

[367] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 28(13). See, for example, Journals, June 5, 2008, pp. 918-21. When a report is referred back to the Commissioner for further consideration, any motions on the Order Paper to concur in the report are removed since the report is no longer in the possession of the House.

[368] See, for example, Journals, June 17, 2008, p. 1000.

[369] The first conflict of interest code was issued by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in the early 1970s, while another version was introduced by Prime Minister Joe Clark in 1979. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney issued The Conflict of Interest and Post‑Employment Code for Public Office Holders in September 1985 (Debates, September 9, 1985, pp. 6399‑402) and it was modified by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in 1994. In 2002, Prime Minister Chrétien tabled three documents respecting ethical standards for Ministers (Journals, June 11, 2002, p. 1564).

[370] Office of the Prime Minister, “Prime Minister Appoints Canada’s First Ethics Counsellor, Announces Integrity Measures”, News Release, June 16, 1994. Prior to June 1994, the Assistant Deputy Registrar of Canada performed the functions of the Ethics Counsellor.

[371] S.C. 2004, c. 7, s. 4. Ethical guidelines were tabled twice in the House of Commons pursuant to this provision (Journals, October 7, 2004, p. 31; April 6, 2006, p. 30).

[372] As enacted by S.C. 2006, c. 9, s. 2 and in force July 9, 2007 (SI/2007-75). Part 1 of the Federal Accountability Act, which received Royal Assent on December 12, 2006, provided for the enactment of the Conflict of Interest Act. The Act added a number of elements to the existing Code.

[373] S.C. 2006, c. 9, s. 2(1).

[374] Conflict of Interest Act, S.C. 2006, c. 9, s. 4 states: “For the purposes of this Act, a public office holder is in a conflict of interest when he or she exercises an official power, duty or function that provides an opportunity to further his or her private interests or those of his or her relatives or friends or to improperly further another person’s private interests”.

[375] Conflict of Interest Act, S.C. 2006, c. 9, Part 1.

[376] Conflict of Interest Act, S.C. 2006, c. 9, Part 2.

[377] Conflict of Interest Act, S.C. 2006, c. 9, Part 3.

[378] Conflict of Interest Act, S.C. 2006, c. 9, s. 64(1).

[379] Conflict of Interest Act, S.C. 2006, c. 9, s. 52. See also ss. 53 to 62.

[380] Parliament of Canada Act, R.S. 1985, c. P-1, ss. 85 and 87.

[381] Conflict of Interest Act, S.C. 2006, c. 9, s. 28.

[382] Conflict of Interest Act, S.C. 2006, c. 9, ss. 44 and 45.

[383] Conflict of Interest Act, S.C. 2006, c. 9, ss. 44(7) and (8), and 45(3) and (4).

[384] On March 3, 2008, the Chair of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, Paul Szabo, rose on a point of order concerning proceedings in the Committee. In particular, Mr. Szabo expressed concern that the Committee’s decision to investigate the fundraising activities of the Liberal Party went beyond its mandate as the motion adopted by the Committee did not include any reference to the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons or to any ethical standards for public office holders. He argued that this matter fell more properly under the mandate of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs which has the responsibility to review and report on all matters related to the election of Members (Debates, pp. 3549-51). On March 14, 2008, Speaker Milliken returned to the House with a ruling on the matter. The Speaker reviewed the mandates of the two committees with respect to ethical matters, and underscored the power of all committees to initiate studies within their mandates. Furthermore, he reminded the House that each committee is expected to respect its mandate and to be “judicious in the exercise of their powers”. Speaker Milliken went on to say that, measured against these standards, he found it difficult to determine if the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics had acted appropriately. Noting that Speakers have traditionally been reluctant to intervene in the proceedings of a committee, and acknowledging that he was not in a position to determine what interpretation the Committee might give to the motions it had adopted, he concluded that he could not find sufficient evidence “to usurp the role of committee members in regulating the affairs” of the Committee. However, he advised the House that if the Committee presented a report on the investigation and if Members still had concerns at that time about the Committee’s mandate, he would revisit the matter. See Debates, March 14, 2008, pp. 4181-3. Two months later, the Committee presented a report to the House on a different matter in which it recommended amendments to the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons (Journals, May 14, 2008, p. 818). Jay Hill (Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip) argued that the report was inadmissible because the Committee’s mandate did not include reviewing and reporting on the Code (Debates, May 14, 2008, pp. 5856‑60). Speaker Milliken subsequently ruled that the subject matter of the report was not within the mandate of the Committee. The report was deemed withdrawn and two notices of motions to concur in the report standing on the Order Paper were removed (Journals, May 15, 2008, p. 827, Debates, pp. 5924‑5). A few weeks later, Mr. Hill rose again on a point of order to ask the Speaker to intervene in the affairs of the Committee. The Committee had adopted a motion to study the election expenses of Conservative candidates during the 39th general election which, he argued, was beyond the mandate of the Committee. After interventions by other Members, Speaker Milliken ruled that he could not intervene in the business of the Committee until it presented a report on the matter to the House (Debates, June 20, 2008, pp. 7203-10).

[385] R.S. 1985, c. P-1, s. 86(3) and (4).

[386] Standing Order 108(3)(a)(vii) and (viii). See, for example, Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, Minutes of Proceedings, May 9, 2006, Meeting No. 5; October 19, 2006, Meeting No. 23. See also the Committee’s Seventh Report, presented to the House on May 19, 2006 (Journals, p. 200) and concurred in on May 30, 2006 (Journals, p. 209). In both the Thirty‑Eighth and Thirty-Ninth Parliaments, the Committee established a subcommittee to deal with specific conflict of interest issues (Minutes of Proceedings, October 14, 2004, Meeting No. 14; November 7, 2006, Meeting No. 28; November 22, 2007, Meeting No. 6). It should also be noted that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs does not have the power to review inquiry reports prepared by the Commissioner. A report from the Commissioner regarding a Member’s compliance with the Code is dealt with by the House itself (Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 28).

[387] Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, Appendix to the Standing Orders, s. 33.

[388] Standing Order 108(3)(h)(iii). See, for example, Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, Minutes of Proceedings, May 10, 2005, Meeting No. 25; June 28, 2005, Meeting No. 34; November 1, 2006, Meeting No. 14.

[389] Standing Order 108(3)(h)(iv). See, for example, Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, Minutes of Proceedings, November 3, 2005, Meeting No. 44; November 24, 2005, Meeting No. 48. The Committee does not consider inquiry reports respecting the conduct of a public office holder. These reports are not tabled in the House; they are given to the Prime Minister and made public (Conflict of Interest Act, S.C. 2006, c. 9, ss. 44(7) and (8), and 45(3) and (4)).

[390] Standing Order 111.1. See, for example, Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence, June 14, 2007, Meeting No. 54. See also Journals, June 12, 2007, p. 1507; June 14, 2007, p. 1532.

[391] Standing Order 108(3)(h)(v).

[392] Standing Order 108(3)(h)(vi). On November 20, 2007, Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre) attempted to move a motion in the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics with respect to the government’s inquiry into the Mulroney Airbus libel settlement. The Chair of the Committee, Paul Szabo, expressed concern that the subject matter of the motion was not within the Committee’s mandate. He advised that he would first seek the advice of the Clerk of the House before allowing the motion to be moved (Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, Evidence, November 20, 2007, Meeting No. 2). At the next meeting of the Committee, Mr. Szabo explained that his concerns were specifically about the definition and scope of the term “initiatives” in the Standing Order and whether or not it allowed the Committee to review initiatives not undertaken by the Committee itself or by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. Having consulted with procedural staff and legal counsel, he ruled that the motion was admissible (Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence, November 22, 2007, Meeting No. 3).

[393] S.C. 2006, c. 9, s. 67.

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