Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Outside of Canada (C16-11/12)

An ethics executive sought advice as to whether a senior public servant may join the board of a non-governmental organization (NGO) outside of Canada.

The Commissioner assessed the potential for conflicts of interest by considering the interactions between the duties of the public servant and the proposed role in the NGO. The Commissioner determined that although the NGO had no current dealings with Ontario, there was some possibility of a future connection with Canada or Ontario and the public servant’s role as a decision-maker. In addition, the NGO could ask the public servant to comment on related policies or issues before the Ontario government. The Commissioner suggested that, to mitigate the risk of conflicts, the public servant recuse him/herself from discussions and decision-making, in his/her capacity as a senior public servant, where the issue involved the NGO. This measure should apply not only to the NGO itself, but also to issues related to the business of the NGO. The Commissioner also recommended that, should the NGO board discuss matters relating to Ontario, the public servant should recuse him/herself from those discussions and decisions. The Commissioner further suggested that the public servant disclose the mitigation strategy to his/her colleagues to make them aware of what can and cannot be brought to the public servant’s attention.

O. Reg. 381/07, s. 9.