Chapter 2: Conflict of interest measures
The objective of these measures is to establish rules of conduct respecting conflict of interest and to minimize the possibility of conflicts arising between private interests and public service duties of Parks Canada employees and managers.
Measures to prevent conflict of interest
Avoiding and preventing situations that could give rise to a conflict of interest, or the appearance of a conflict of interest, is one of the primary means by which a Parks Canada employee maintains public confidence in the impartiality and objectivity of the Parks Canada Agency.
Conflict of interest does not relate exclusively to matters concerning financial transactions and the transfer of economic benefit. While financial activity is important, it is not the sole source of potential conflict of interest situations.
- In carrying out their official duties, all Parks Canada employees should arrange their private affairs in a manner that will prevent real, apparent or potential conflicts of interest from arising.
- They should not have private interests, other than those permitted pursuant to these measures, that would be affected particularly or significantly by government actions in which they participate.
- They should not solicit or accept transfers of economic benefit.
- They should not step out of their official roles to assist private entities or persons in their dealings with the government where this would result in preferential treatment to the entities or persons.
- They should not knowingly take advantage of, or benefit from, information that is obtained in the course of their official duties and that is not generally available to the public.
- They should not directly or indirectly use, or allow the use of, government property of any kind, including property leased to the government, for anything other than officially approved activities.
- If a conflict does arise between the private interests and the official duties of an employee, the conflict should be resolved in favour of the public interest.
Methods of compliance
For a Parks Canada employee to comply with these measures, it will usually be sufficient to submit a Code of Ethics Report to the Human Resources Manager. Upon receipt of such Code of Ethics Report , the Human Resources Manager will assess whether or not a potential conflict of interest exists. The Code of Ethics Report outlines the Parks Canada employee's ownership of assets, receipt of gifts, hospitality or other benefits, or participation in any outside employment or activities that could give rise to a conflict of interest.
Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, all Parks Canada employees have the following obligations:
- They must report, within 60 days of their first appointment or any subsequent appointment, transfer or deployment, all outside activities, assets, and direct and contingent liabilities that might give rise to a conflict of interest with respect to their official duties. To this end, a Code of Ethics Report must be filed with the Human Resources Manager.
- Every time a major change occurs in the personal affairs or official duties of all Parks Canada employees, they must review their obligations under this Code . If a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest exists, they must file a new Code of Ethics Report with the Human Resources Manager.
There will be instances, however, where other measures will be necessary. These include the following:
- Avoiding or withdrawing from activities or situations that would place the employee in real, potential or apparent conflict of interest with his/her official duties; and
- Having an asset sold at arm's length or placed in a blind trust where continued ownership would constitute a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest with the employee's official duties.
If the employee and his/her supervisor cannot reach an agreement on how to resolve the apparent conflict of interest, the Ombudsman should be contacted and will make recommendations to the Chief Executive Officer, who will make the decision and communicate it to the employee. In determining appropriate action, the Chief Executive Officer will try to achieve mutual agreement with the employee in question and will take into account such factors as:
- Employee's specific responsibilities;
- Value and types of assets and interests involved; and
- Actual costs to be incurred by divesting the assets and interests, as opposed to the potential that the assets and interests represent for a conflict of interest.
The types of assets and interests that should be included in a Code of Ethics Report , those that need not be declared, as well as procedures for divesting assets are set out in Appendix A.
It is to be noted that a Parks Canada employee may not sell or transfer assets to family members or others for purposes of circumventing the compliance measures.
Outside employment or activities
All Parks Canada employees may engage in employment outside the Agency and take part in outside activities unless the employment or activities are likely to give rise to a conflict of interest or in any way undermine the neutrality, or the appearance of neutrality of the Agency.
Where outside employment or activities might subject Parks Canada employees to demands incompatible with their official duties, or cast doubt on their ability to perform their duties in a completely objective manner, they shall submit a Code of Ethics Report to their Human Resources Manager, who will assess whether or not a potential conflict of interest may exist. Where further review is required, the Ombudsman may be consulted. The Ombudsman in his/her role as Senior Integrity Officer may recommend to the Chief Executive Officer that the outside activities be curtailed, modified or terminated if it is determined that real, apparent or potential conflict of interest exists.
Gifts, hospitality and other benefits
All Parks Canada employees are called upon to use their best judgement to avoid situations of real or perceived conflict. In doing so, all Parks Canada employees should consider the following criteria on gifts, hospitality and other benefits, keeping in mind the full context of this Code .
All Parks Canada employees shall not accept or solicit any gifts, hospitality or other benefits that may have a real or apparent influence on their objectivity in carrying out their official duties or that may place them under obligation to the donor. This includes free or discounted admission to sporting and cultural events arising out of an actual or potential business relationship directly related to the Parks Canada employee's official duties.
The acceptance of gifts, hospitality and other benefits is permissible if they:
- Are infrequent and of minimal value (low–cost promotional objects, simple meals, souvenirs with no cash value);
- Arise out of activities or events related to the official duties of the Parks Canada employee concerned;
- Are within the normal standards of courtesy, hospitality or protocol; and
- Do not compromise or appear to compromise in any way the integrity of the Parks Canada employee concerned or his/her organization.
Where it is impossible to decline gifts, hospitality and other benefits that do not meet the principles set out above, or where it is believed that there is sufficient benefit to the organization to warrant acceptance of certain types of hospitality, a Parks Canada employee shall seek written direction from his/her Director General. The Director General will then notify the Parks Canada employee in writing whether the gifts, hospitality and other benefits are to be declined or retained by the Agency, donated to charity, disposed of, or retained by the Parks Canada employee concerned.
At no time should Parks Canada employees solicit gifts, hospitality, other benefits or transfers of economic value from a person, group or organization in the private sector who has dealings with the government.
In the case of fundraising for charitable organizations, all Parks Canada employees should ensure that they have prior authorization from their Director General to solicit donations, prizes or contributions in kind from external organizations or individuals. The Director General may require that the activities be curtailed, modified or terminated where it is determined that there is a real or apparent conflict of interest or an obligation to the donor.
Avoidance of preferential treatment
When participating in any decision making related to a staffing process, all Parks Canada employees shall ensure that they do not grant preferential treatment or assistance to family or friends. Employees should not sit on selection boards or otherwise participate in hiring processes involving family or close friends.
When making decisions that will result in a financial award to an external party, all Parks Canada employees shall not grant preferential treatment or assistance to family or friends.
All Parks Canada employees should not offer any assistance to entities or persons that have dealings with the Agency or otherwise with the government, where this assistance is not part of their official duties, without obtaining prior authorization from their designated superior and complying with the conditions for that authorization.
Providing information that is easily accessible to the public to relatives or friends or to entities in which Parks Canada employees or their family members or friends have interest is not considered preferential treatment.