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February 3, 2023

The Senate Ethics Officer publishes a new guideline on outside activities

February 3, 2023 - The Senate Ethics Officer (SEO) is pleased to announce that he is publishing a new Guideline on Outside Activities (Section 5) (the Guideline) under the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators (the Code).

The guideline provides information about the interpretation of certain rules under the Code and is based on real cases. It has been approved by the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators, as required under the Code. 

These guidelines are general in nature and should not be considered an opinion or advice under the Code. They are only to be used as tools of reference in order to better understand the Code and how the SEO interprets and applies it, as of the date of their publication.

The following are a few highlights on the Guideline on Outside Activities (Section 5 of the Code).

  • Senators may participate in outside activities (in a private capacity) as long as they are able to comply with the principles and the obligations under the Code.
  • Outside activities include having employment outside of the Senate, continuing to practise a profession (as a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher, an accountant, etc.), carrying on a business, and sitting on boards of directors and advisory boards of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. This is not an exhaustive list.
  • Senators who are members of the multilateral associations and the bilateral associations funded by the Joint Inter-Parliamentary Council and of the interparliamentary groups officially recognized by the Parliament of Canada, are not considered to be engaged in outside activities and do not need to disclose these activities to the SEO.
  • Membership in any “Friendship Groups” is considered to be an outside activity and should be disclosed to the SEO.
  • Senators must arrange their private affairs, which include outside activities, to avoid real or apparent conflicts of interests.
  • Senators must give precedence to their parliamentary duties and functions over any other duty or outside activity.
  • Senators who are not able to carry on an outside activity while simultaneously adhering to the principles and the obligations under the Code must refrain from being involved in that activity.
  • Senators cannot use or attempt to use their Senate position to further their own private interests or those of an entity in the course of their outside activities.
  • Senators must not use their Senate staff and Senate resources in relation to their position within an outside organization.
  • Senators who hold positions within outside organizations may not promote, in the context of their Senate role, the organization with which they are associated, for example, in the Senate Chamber and in Senate committees.
  • Senators who have an interest in an organization that may be affected by a matter before the Senate or one of its committees must make a declaration of a private interest. They must also recuse themselves from any deliberations and they must not vote on the matter.

The new guideline is available here.