Office of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner

Who We Are

Meet The Conflict of Interest Commissioner


The Honourable Sidney B. Linden

The Honourable Sidney B. Linden was appointed Ontario's first full-time Conflict of Interest Commissioner in July 2007.

Justice Linden graduated from the University of Toronto Law School and was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1966. He was in private practice until 1980.

Between 1980 and 1985, Justice Linden was the first Police Complaints Commissioner for Metropolitan Toronto and Chairman of the Police Complaints Board. Between 1985 and 1987, he was Executive Director of the Canadian Auto Workers (C.A.W.) Prepaid Legal Services Plan, the first privately funded national prepaid legal service plan in Canada. In 1987, he was appointed Ontario's first Information and Privacy Commissioner. He was responsible for starting up the agency and served as Commissioner until April 1990.

In April 1990, Justice Linden was appointed Chief Justice of the newly reorganized Ontario Court of Justice (Provincial Division). During that time, he was Co-Chair of the Ontario Judicial Council and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Judicial Institute. In 1997, Justice Linden was awarded the Justice Award by the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice.

Justice Linden has also served as the Chair of the Board of Legal Aid Ontario (1999-2003) and Commissioner of the Ipperwash Public Inquiry (2003-2007).

Our Commitment to Service Standards

We have identified principles and values to guide us in carrying out our mandate. In addition, all agencies of the Ontario government are expected to adhere to certain service standards. In our case, the service standards relate to our responses to inquiries, feedback, or complaints. We also apply our principles and values in our efforts to meet or exceed these standards.

We recognize that rights and interests are at stake
The public has an interest in and is entitled to expect an ethical and non-partisan public service. Public servants also have rights, some set out in legislation, including rights related to privacy and confidentiality. Our procedures take these rights and interests into account.

We strive to lead by example
We are responsible for articulating and upholding the principles of the PSOA and for promoting ethical conduct in the Ontario public service. We strive to be a model agency, within Ontario and among similar agencies in other jurisdictions, with procedures and practices that lead by example.

We are committed to fairness
We develop procedures and practices with a view to meeting the highest ethical and legal standards, and we are committed to carrying them out impartially and fairly.

We are accountable and independent
Administratively, our office is accountable to the government as one of its agencies. However, the commissioner is necessarily independent with regard to his advice and decisions, subject only to the oversight function of the courts.

We recognize the need for both transparency and confidentiality
We provide anyone who contacts our office with the information necessary to understand our role and our procedures. We also balance the need to adequately protect an individual's privacy with the need to disclose information where the commissioner has an obligation to do so.

We are committed to best practices
We aim to ensure full confidence in our expertise, knowledge, and competence in carrying out our responsibilities. We are committed to continually advancing and updating our knowledge and to monitoring developments in other jurisdictions to ensure that we are aware of approaches that might enhance our own practices.

We make every effort to ensure consistency in responding to inquiries and requests
In keeping with the government's objective of promoting consistency in the application and interpretation of the ethical framework, we have developed processes that allow us to apply our growing body of knowledge about conflict of interest and political activity concerns in a consistent manner.

We seek to eliminate barriers to understanding and to access
We are committed to making our process and procedures easy to understand, to making information available in accessible formats, and to removing barriers to our services in keeping with Ontario government standards. Documents related to our accessible services are available upon request or at www.accesson.ca.

We are timely in our responses
We work to meet or exceed the Ontario government service standards established for the functions of our office with respect to inquiries and feedback, taking into consideration the need for enough flexibility to investigate sufficiently and respond appropriately. Where there is an impediment to timely service, we provide notification and an estimate of the time required.

We are courteous and respectful
In helping the public service achieve its commitment to professionalism, integrity, accountability, and excellence, we are committed to acting with respect, dignity, and courtesy toward everyone who has contact with this office.

We are accountable for public funds
As a publicly funded office, our expenditure policies reflect our accountability for the effective and responsible stewardship of public resources.

Standards for responding to requests and inquiries
Requests and inquiries typically move through either two or three stages, depending on how the matter relates to the commissioner's mandate and the complexity of the matter:

  • Acknowledgement
  • Gathering additional information (if necessary)
  • Response (redirecting the inquiry, providing advice, or making a determination, as the case may be)

With all responses, we make every effort to meet or exceed the timeliness criteria specified in the Ontario government service standards.

We have service standards for the various stages and make every effort to meet or exceed them:

  • Acknowledge all inquiries within five working days
  • When a request or inquiry falls outside the commissioner's sphere of responsibility, provide a response within five working days and, where possible, suggest an alternative source of assistance
  • When the request or inquiry concerns an Ontario public servant, provide a response within ten working days
  • When it is necessary to gather additional information, provide a response within ten working days of receiving the additional information

Standards for addressing feedback and complaints
In accordance with Ontario Public Service Standards, we acknowledge feedback or complaints about our service or a staff member within two working days if received verbally or by telephone. If received by mail or electronically, we acknowledge receipt within five working days. Our acknowledgement indicates that we will respond within fifteen working days. In the case of a complex situation where fifteen days is not sufficient, we give an estimate of the additional time required. We endeavour to respond in a format that is accessible to the person providing feedback.

The Office of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner is committed to providing quality service. Feedback assists us in meeting that commitment. We have a process in place to ensure that we respond to complaints and suggestions in a timely, transparent, and fair manner.

What is covered by this process
Although the commissioner's mandate is limited to matters concerning Ontario public servants, other individuals may make inquiries. Our process is available to any individual who has contacted our office. It applies to all complaints concerning our procedures for acknowledging, redirecting, or responding to any inquiry.

What is not covered by this process
The process does not apply to dissatisfaction with the commissioner's advice, determinations, or other decisions. In such instances, we would advise the complainant of an appropriate process for seeking a resolution, including any possible avenue for requesting that the commissioner reconsider the matter.

Methods for providing feedback or lodging a complaint
Individuals may contact us electronically, by letter, by telephone, or by TTY. We respond to all suggestions or complaints, and we make every effort to resolve them and explain our response.

A suggestion or complaint about our service should be directed to the attention of our executive co-ordinator.

A complaint about a staff member may be raised with the staff member directly or directed to the attention of the executive co-ordinator. A complaint about the executive co-ordinator may be forwarded to the commissioner or to the Minister of Government Services.

The following options are available for asking questions or providing feedback regarding our service standards or this process:

Electronically:   coicommissioner@ontario.ca

By Letter:
Office of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner
2 Bloor Street E., Suite 1802
Toronto, Ontario M4W 3J5

By telephone/TTY:   416-325-1571 or 1-866-956-1191

By fax:  416-325-4330