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Overview of Conflict of Interest Act

As per the Conflict of Interest Act (CoIA), a public office holder is in a conflict of interest when he or she exercises on official power, duty of function that provides an opportunity to further his or her private interests or those of his or her relatives or friends or to improperly further another person’s private interests.

Public Office Holders (POHs)

POHs are subject to the obligations imposed in Part 1 of the CoIA with respect to avoiding conflicts of interest. In general, this means that they are required to avoid situations where the exercise of their powers, duties and functions would provide an opportunity to further their own private interests, or the private interests of their friends or relatives, or to improperly further the private interests of any other party.

Specifically, they have statutory obligations to:

In addition, they are required to recuse themselves from any decision making that would place them in a conflict of interest (as per section 21 of CoIA). They are also subject to the post-employment rules in sections 33 and 34, which prohibit them from taking “improper advantage” of their positions after leaving, acting in any “specific proceeding, transactions, negotiation or case” for which they previously acted for or advised the Crown, and from giving advice to clients or employers using information obtained through their positions and not available to the public. These post-employment restrictions are not time-limited.

Reporting Public Office Holders (RPOHs)

The requirements on RPOHs build on those listed above for POHs, and include:

The CoIA also imposes strict annual reporting requirements on RPOHs, who must submit confidential reports to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to ensure that they have complied with their statutory obligations. The Commissioner may also order that specific compliance measures be taken, including divestment of assets, if necessary. In this regard, the administrative costs incurred by an RPOH in relation to a divestment of asset, or in withdrawal from activities (i.e., removing the name of the RPOH from registries) are normally reimbursed pursuant to section 31 of the CoIA.

The Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner is the authority when it comes to education of POHs and RPOHs on their obligations under the Acts. Her office provides information sessions tailored to their respective audiences.

For further information you can refer to the Conflict of Interest Act in the following pages.

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