Another important role of the Senate Ethics Officer is to administer the disclosure process under the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators.
The disclosure process is at the heart of the rules on accountability, and confidence in the Senate.
All senators must file annual Confidential Disclosure Statements with the SEO setting out their outside activities, their sources of income, assets, liabilities, and government contracts. As of April 2019, the date of filing for senators is the anniversary date of their appointment to the Senate. Newly appointed senators must file their initial statements within 120 days after being summoned to the Senate.
In addition, senators have an ongoing obligation throughout the year to report any material changes to their Confidential Disclosure Statements, as well as any gifts or other benefits they receive that are provided as a matter of courtesy, protocol or that are within the customary standards of hospitality that normally accompany a senator’s position and that exceed $500. Any sponsored travel that arises from or relates to a senator’s position must also be reported throughout the year if the costs of travel exceed $500 in value and the travel does not fall within an exception. Declarations of Private Interests must also be disclosed.
A public summary is then prepared annually for each senator based on the information provided in the senator’s Confidential Disclosure Statements. The Code sets out the list of interests that must be publicly disclosed. This list includes senators’ activities outside their parliamentary duties and functions, as well as their income over $2,000, and their assets and liabilities valued at over $10,000. The information about spouses and common-law partners are not publicly disclosed.
Senators are then required to review their public disclosure summaries, sign and return them to the SEO. These summaries are then placed in both a paper public registry located in the Office of the Senate Ethics Officer, as well as published in the Office’s online Public Registry (here). This registry contains all the information that is required to be made public under the Code.
In addition, senators are required to file annually a Statement of Compliance confirming that they have read the Code within the last 30 days and that, to their knowledge and belief, they are in compliance with the Code as of the day the statement is filed. These Statements of Compliance are also filed in the online Public Registry (here).
The disclosure process is an ongoing process that continues throughout the year, even after completion of the annual confidential disclosure and public disclosure processes. Senators are required to ensure that their Confidential Disclosure Statements are kept up-to-date throughout the year by filing Statements of Material Change with the SEO within 30 days after any material changes occur in their circumstances. These forms are included within each senator’s public disclosure file. They are published as soon as possible in the online Public Registry after they are received.
In addition, senators must file a Statement of Gifts or Other Benefits with the SEO for any gifts and benefits received as a normal expression of courtesy or protocol, or that are within the customary standards of hospitality that normally accompany the senator’s position, if the value of each gift or benefit (or the cumulative value of all gifts or benefits received from one source in a 12-month period) exceeds $500. These Statements of Gifts or Other Benefits are placed in each senator’s public disclosure file in the online Public Registry.
Similarly, sponsored travel must be reported in a statement which forms part of a senator’s public disclosure file, if the travel costs exceed $500.
Over the course of the year, senators must also publicly declare any private interests that may be affected by matters before the Senate, or a committee of the Senate of which they are members. These public declarations are also placed in the online Public Registry.