Political activities: federal public servants

Thinking about joining a political party?
Making a donation?
Helping out in a political campaign?
Becoming a candidate in a municipal, provincial, territorial or federal election?

Part 7 of the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) recognizes your right to engage in political activities. However, these activities must not impair, or be perceived as impairing, your ability to perform your duties in a politically impartial manner.

Definition of a political activity

Under the PSEA, a political activity includes:

  • Any activity in support of, within or in opposition to a political party;
  • Any activity in support of, or in opposition to, a candidate before or during an election period; or
  • Seeking nomination as, or being, a candidate in an election before or during the election period.

To assess whether a particular activity could impair or be perceived as impairing your ability to perform your duties in a politically impartial manner, you should:

Political candidacy request

If you are an employee working for an organization subject to Part 7 of the PSEA, you must first receive permission from the PSC to seek nomination as, or be, a candidate before or during the election period. You can make public your intention to be a candidate and undertake candidacy related activities only after the PSC has granted you permission.

To ensure a timely decision, your request should be submitted to the PSC no later than 30 days before the date on which you require a decision from the Commission.

For federal, provincial or territorial elections, you also need to request and obtain from the PSC a leave without pay (LWOP) for the election period, to seek nomination as, or be, a candidate. You will cease to be an employee of the public service on the day you are elected.

For municipal elections, the PSC may make the permission conditional on you taking a LWOP or ceasing to be an employee. Otherwise, you could continue to work as a public servant while seeking nomination as, or being, a candidate or if elected.

For more information, please contact your organization’s designated political activities representative or consult the PSC Political Activities Directorate Web site.

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