Public Sector Ethics Conference

It has always been my view that people doing similar work, or with similar responsibilities, should come together to discuss issues and developments of mutual concern, or just to share knowledge, experience, and expertise. It helps to break down “silos”, encourages new ideas and lessons to surface and circulate, fosters the creation of relationships and networks, and promotes consistency in approaches.

So organizing a public sector ethics conference has been something we’ve wanted to do for some time.

Our objective for this conference is to raise the profile of the subject by bringing together public servants and oversight bodies from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government, practitioners and academics. Having a good mix from within the ethics community is important, as it will foster the exchange of diverse views, and hopefully  make the event interesting and worthwhile.

This all-day conference will take place on Friday, September 30th, with dinner and keynote speech the night before. It will consist of four expert panels, covering what we hope is an engaging array of public-sector ethics issues:

  • What are some of the emerging issues and challenges in public-sector ethics?
  • Are ethics and integrity regimes most effective if they are proactive or reactive?
  • Is the existing balance between free speech and public service neutrality sustainable, especially in the information age?
  • What are some of the successes in ethics oversight from different jurisdictions?

The keynotes are very exciting. For the dinner keynote, we have former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci, and for the luncheon the Honourable Bob Rae, who will speak to us about the value and efficacy of public service ethics oversight. These gentlemen need no introduction.

In planning this event, we have been fortunate to assemble an excellent advisory committee, which, like our various panelists, represents an exceptional talent mix. It includes academic luminaries like Anita Anand, Lorne Sossin and Phil MacEwen. It also includes Mary Dawson, David Wake and Valerie Jepson, the federal, Ontario, and Toronto integrity commissioners respectively, as well as the Deputy Attorney-General and Secretary of Cabinet.

The event is being organized in partnership with the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC), whose CEO, Dr. Robert Taylor, has been invaluable with his advice and support. IPAC will also assist in preparation of the post-event publication. Mary Gusella, who is a director of the Ethics Practitioners’ Association of Canada, has also been very helpful. Our Executive Director, Derek Lett, has been holding it all together.

The number of seats for this event is limited, and our target audience is essentially ethics executives in ministries and public bodies, senior officials and academics and practitioners in the field. Even so, we’re sure the conference will prove to be a valuable contribution to public service ethics discourse. Finally, our hope is that this conference will lead to many similar events in the years to come.

Additional information on the conference can be found on IPAC’s dedicated website page.