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 email@example.com.
Source: Section 11, section 23 and subsection 25(5) of the Conflict of Interest Act
1. What is required by the Conflict of Interest Act?
The Conflict of Interest Act
prohibits you and your family members[i]
from accepting gifts or other advantages that might reasonably be seen to have been given to influence you in the exercise of an official power, duty or function.
2. What is considered a gift or other advantage?
or other advantages can take many forms. Money, in any form, is considered a
gift or other advantage if there is no obligation or expectation to repay it.
An invitation, a meal, a service or a property[ii], or
the use of such property[iii], either without charge or for less than its commercial value,
is also a gift or other advantage.
Promotional items of low value, such as pens, notepads,
keychains, T-shirts or inexpensive carrying cases provided to attendees at
conventions or similar events, would generally not reasonably be seen to have
been given to influence you and would therefore be acceptable.
It is not possible to list everything that might
be considered a gift or other advantage. If you have any doubts about a gift or
other advantage that is being offered to you, consult your advisor.
3. When must a gift be disclosed, declared or forfeited?
Act provides limited exceptions for accepting certain types of gifts or other
advantages (see section 4 below). In most cases, you
are required to prepare a public
declaration for acceptable gifts or other advantages valued at $200 or
a) When a gift or other advantage must be disclosed
A gift or other advantage or a series of gifts or other
advantages that you or a family member accepts from any one source in a
12-month period with a total value of over $200 must be disclosed to the
Commissioner. The disclosure must be made within 30 days after the day on which
the value exceeds $200. Failure to do so constitutes a contravention of the Act
and you are liable to an administrative
b) When a gift or other advantage must be publicly declared
When you or
a family member accepts a gift or other advantage valued at $200 or more, you
must publicly declare it within 30 days of its acceptance. A contravention of
the applicable section of the Act is liable to an administrative
c) When a gift or other advantage must be forfeited
You must forfeit certain gifts or other advantages valued at $1,000 or more unless the Commissioner determines otherwise. Your department will be responsible for determining what happens to forfeited gifts or other advantages.The value of the gift or other advantage is based on its fair market value, that is, the amount one would have to pay in Canada to purchase a similar item.If you are also a Member of the House of Commons, you must also comply with the gift provision set out in the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons.4. When is a gift or other advantage acceptable?
You and your family members
are prohibited from accepting gifts or other advantages that might
reasonably be seen to have been given to influence you[iv]
in the exercise of
an official power, duty or function. This is known as the acceptability test.
The question to ask yourself before accepting a gift or
other advantage is not whether the person or organization who gave it to you
intended to influence you or whether you were indeed influenced, but rather
whether a reasonable person might think that the gift or other advantage was
given for that reason.
In deciding whether to accept a gift or other advantage,
you should consider who is offering it and why it is being
offered. The donor’s existing or future relationship to you and your office is
particularly important. Examples of gifts or other advantages that could
reasonably be seen to have been given to influence you include a gift or other
advantage from someone who is registered to lobby you or your office, or one from
someone whose interests could be affected[v]
by a decision you may be called upon to make. We
encourage you to periodically consult the federal Registry of Lobbyists.
These considerations apply to gifts or other advantages
offered directly or indirectly by all individuals, trusts and organizations,
including non-profit and charitable organizations, as well as other public
sector organizations. In
determining whether a gift or other advantage is acceptable, the Office will
consider all the circumstances surrounding it.
If you have any doubts about a gift or other advantage
that is being offered to you, consult your advisor.
5. Are there exceptions to the gift rule?
are three exceptions to the gift rule:
a) Gifts or other advantages permitted under the Canada Elections Act
There is an exception for gifts that are permitted under the Canada Elections Act, which contains rules about gifts that apply to candidates during an election period or during a nomination or leadership campaign. Elections Canada can provide advice on how to comply with the Canada Elections Act.
b) Gifts or other advantages from a relative or friend
This exception allows you to accept gifts or
other advantages given by a relative or friend[vi] that the relative or friend has personally paid for.
Examples are gifts or other advantages offered in a personal setting and on a
personal occasion, such as a birthday, wedding, anniversary or retirement. The
Act prohibits you from exercising an official power, duty or function that
provides an opportunity to further the private interests of your relatives or friends.
You do not need to disclose these gifts or other advantages to the Office or
declare them in the public registry.
c) Courtesy or protocol gifts or other advantages
This exception allows you to accept gifts or other
advantages received as a normal expression of courtesy or protocol[vii]
, or that
are within the customary standards that normally accompany your position.
includes a gift or other advantage given as a token expression of appreciation
in the context of an official interaction. The exception would also apply if
you, as a public office holder, are performing an official function at an
event, such as serving as a speaker, moderator or ribbon-cutter.
If your role at a function is limited to information-gathering or
networking, then this exception does not apply.
advisor can help you determine if the exception applies to a gift or other advantage
that you have received.
6. What should I do if I am offered a gift or other advantage that I cannot accept?
gift or other advantage that does not pass the acceptability test and does not
fall within the exceptions is
prohibited. You or your family member must refuse it.
If you have accepted a gift or other advantage and have realized shortly
after the fact that it may not be acceptable, you should immediately return it.
You should contact your advisor.
You may not give, redirect
or donate an unacceptable gift or other advantage to someone else, such as a
family member, employee, constituent or registered charity.
7. Targeted advice on the subject of gifts or advantages
a) Invitations to events that are not related to the exercise of an official function
Invitations are considered gifts or other
advantages; they include invitations to events where you have an official role
or function and events that are not related to the exercise of an
official function. Examples include
invitations or tickets[viii]
attend a sporting event, gala, concert, play or fundraiser at a reduced rate or
at no cost. Such events might be organized by associations, special-interest
groups, lobbyists or other organizations, and your attendance at them might be
sponsored by third parties. Or, you might be invited to attend a fundraising
event by a person or entity that has already purchased tickets.
these invitations are considered gifts or other advantages under the Act, they
must always be evaluated against the acceptability test. That is, you must consider
whether the gift or other advantage might reasonably be seen to have
been given to influence you in the exercise of an official power, duty or
there are official dealings,
either current or anticipated, between your entity and the person or his or her
organization offering the invitation, you should pay the advertised price to
attend the event rather than accept a free invitation. For example, if you are
part of a public sector entity that regulates
the sponsor or organizer of the event, you should pay to attend the event
or decline the invitation .
invitation is acceptable and its value is $200 or more, you are required to
make a public declaration.
b) Business meals
A free business
meal is considered a gift or other advantage under the Act and is subject to
the acceptability test. However, there are limited instances where such gifts
or other advantages cannot reasonably be seen to have been given to influence
you, such as when a meal is offered at an event where you are performing an
is recommended that public office holders pay for their business meals whenever
possible to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest.
8. Other legislative requirements
You should be aware that certain gifts or other advantages may also be prohibited under the Parliament of Canada Act or the Criminal Code.
9. List of examination reports issued dealing with gifts
The Trudeau Report The Vennard ReportThe Bonner ReportThe Paradis Report
(August 2013)The Raitt Report
(April 2012)The Dykstra ReportThe Raitt Report (May 2010) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------i For the purposes of the Act, family members are your spouse or common-law partner, your dependent children and the dependent children of your spouse or common-law partner.
ii See, for example, The Vennard Report
iii See, for example, The Paradis Report
iv See, for example, The Trudeau Report
v See, for example, The Bennett Report
Commissioner has interpreted “friend” to mean individuals who have a close bond
of friendship, a feeling of affection or a special kinship with the public
office holder. It does not include members of a broad social circle of business
associates or colleagues unless such a relationship has developed.
vii See, for example, The Vennard Report
viii See, for example, The Bonner Report