Do the Right Thing

In previous blogs I explained that conflicts of interest may sometimes occur as a fact of life in a complicated society and that people should develop their own ethical compass and know when to seek advice.  I discussed how leaders are responsible for their own and their organization’s ethical integrity and they should foster an ethical culture. In this blog I am writing about something that supports most of what I havepreviously written, namely, that after decades of public service in a variety of roles, I am convinced that most people in government want to do the right thing simply because it is right. I believe there is a heightened […]

Commissioner Expenses

Under the Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expense Directive (November 2014), all regulatory agencies are required to post details of travel, meal and hospitality expenses of senior executives and government appointees for the agency on a quarterly basis throughout the calendar year. Fiscal Year 2015-16 Fourth Quarter Fiscal Year 2016-17 First Quarter (no expenses were incurred this fiscal quarter) Second Quarter (no expenses were incurred this fiscal quarter) Third Quarter (no expenses were incurred this fiscal quarter) Fourth Quarter (no expenses were incurred this fiscal quarter)    

Dealing with Conflict

Ontario’s system for dealing with conflicts of interest is inclusive and, at the same time, decentralized. In my view, this is one of the strengths of our system. Public sector leaders are expected to manage ethical issues and build an ethical culture within their own organizations. Ethics oversight is not an ‘overlay’ on existing organizations but part of their inherent functioning. Every public servant has an ethics executive, who is usually the deputy minister in a ministry or the chair or CEO of a public body. Our office is a resource for ethics executives generally, and provides ethics training to public body chairs and CEOs. Public servants in Ontario are […]

Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act

The MPP and Public Sector Accountability and Transparency Act, also known as Bill 8, has been in the news a lot. While the bill does not affect the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, it introduces several changes to the accountability framework for the Government of Ontario. The Act received Royal Assent on December 11. Different parts of the Act will be brought into force over time by proclamation. Among other things, the new Act gives the government the authority to establish compensation frameworks for agency executives, requires certain agencies to publish business plans and other documents, requires Cabinet ministers, parliamentary assistants, opposition leaders and their staff to publish expenses, establishes a […]

Getting the Word Out

Have you ever wondered if your volunteer activities might conflict with your day job as a public servant? Our educational videos explore ethical scenarios that public servants may face in their day-to-day work. They depict real-life situations and provide tips on how statutory ethical rules apply in each case. The video linked below is adapted from the original produced jointly by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Enjoy! View Video

“Guilty” of a Conflict of Interest

When discussing a conflict of interest situation or controversy, it may be misleading to use the language of criminal law. Doing so implies that a person with a conflict of interest has necessarily acted improperly. Sometimes, individuals entangled in a conflict of interest or other ethics matter, after an investigation has taken place, may express relief at being “exonerated”, or found “not guilty”. Or, individuals may express frustration at being “accused” of being conflicted. It is true that a found conflict could involve elements of wrongdoing, but it is not unusual for a person to be conflicted without having acted improperly. In a complex society, conflicts of interests are inevitable. […]

Ethical Leadership

As Conflict of Interest Commissioner for the Province of Ontario, my concern is the ethical conduct of public servants. I have a specific role with respect to the chairs of designated agencies and some designated agency senior managers, for whom I am the ethics executive. I am also the ethics executive for many former public servants and for the Secretary of Cabinet. The ethics executive is responsible for ensuring compliance with rules for ethical conduct. In Ontario, however, the system of public service ethics oversight is a shared responsibility. Agency chairs and senior managers are themselves ethics executives for their own organizations. Deputy ministers are ethics executives for their ministries. […]