Communiqué from the President to Deputy Heads on the Alberta Provincial Election (08-03)
The following message was sent to Deputy Heads on February 8, 2008.
Provincial Election Announcement: Political Candidacy and Activities of Employees
February 8, 2008
To Deputy Heads
The Public Service Commission (PSC) is responsible for safeguarding the values of a professional public service and overseeing the regime governing political activities of public servants as set out in the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA). With the recent announcement of a general election in Alberta to be held on March 3, 2008, I would like to take the opportunity to remind you of the requirements for employees who wish to seek nomination as, and be candidates in elections or to engage in any other political activities. These statutory provisions exist to protect the impartiality of the public service.
The PSEA provides a regime for governing the political activities of employees which recognizes the need to balance the rights of employees to engage in political activities with the principle of political impartiality in the federal public service. Employees are permitted to engage in political activity as long as it does not impair, or is not perceived to impair, their ability to perform their duties in a politically impartial manner. Under the PSEA, political activities include:
- carrying on any activity in support of, within or in opposition to a political party;
- carrying on 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.
The PSEA clearly states that an employee who wishes to seek nomination as, and be a candidate in a federal, provincial, territorial or municipal election must request and obtain permission and a leave of absence without pay (LWOP), if applicable, from the PSC. The PSC will grant permission and any applicable leave if it is satisfied that this will neither impair, nor be perceived to impair, the employee's ability to perform his or her duties in a politically impartial manner.
Employees who wish to seek a nomination as, and be a candidate in the upcoming Alberta provincial election must submit their request to the PSC no later than 30 days before the date they require a decision from the PSC. Until the employee has received, from the PSC, permission and LWOP during the election period, no registration or declaration of candidacy or related activities may be undertaken. Employees will find on the PSC Web site the submission procedure
http://www.psc-cfp.gc.ca/plac-acpl/leave-conge/index-eng.htm that describes what must be included in a request to obtain PSC permission.
As part of this process, the employees of your organization who wish to seek nomination as or be a candidate in an election will ask you to fill out the "Deputy Head's (DH) Input Form". This is your opportunity to describe any operational impacts on your organization that are, or could be, anticipated if the employee seeks nomination as, or is a candidate before and during the election period and to assess the employee's ability to perform his or her public service duties in a politically impartial manner before and during the election period. The comments that you will provide regarding your employees' requests are an important part of the PSC review process; you should therefore ensure that you provide thorough comments, in a timely fashion. Please note that you should not delegate the provision of these comments except under exceptional circumstances.
The PSC will only consider requests that include the necessary information, including your completed "DH's Input Form". Employees risk a delay in receiving a decision from the PSC if their submission is incomplete.
Guidance on candidacy and other political activities
A guidance document and a self-assessment tool are available on the PSC Web site
http://www.psc-cfp.gc.ca/plac-acpl/guidance-direction-eng.htm to help employees who may consider becoming candidates or engaging in any other kinds of political activity. Bearing in mind the above definition of a political activity, such undertakings must not impair or be perceived to impair an employee's ability to perform his or her duties in a politically impartial manner. When unsure if a political activity they wish to engage in is problematic, employees are encouraged to discuss their specific circumstances with their manager, and/or the designated political activities representative of your organization.
Allegations and investigations
Any person may make an allegation to the PSC that an employee has sought to be elected without prior permission and/or leave from the PSC, or has engaged in other political activity that impairs or is perceived as impairing the employee's ability to perform his or her duties in a politically impartial manner. The PSEA provides for the PSC to investigate such allegations. If the allegation is founded, the PSC may take any corrective action that it considers appropriate, including dismissing the employee.
Deputy heads' responsibilities
The PSEA makes clear that DHs shall not engage in any political activity other than voting.
With respect to their employees, the role of DHs is to:
- inform them of the requirements for seeking nomination as or being a candidate in an election;
- provide the employee who requests permission to seek nomination as, and be a candidate with a completed "DH's Input Form" in a timely manner, in order to complete the employee's request to be submitted to the PSC;
- ensure any workplace requirements imposed by the PSC regarding a request for permission to seek nomination as, and be a candidate are respected;
- provide assistance to the PSC when it conducts an investigation;
- implement corrective measures prescribed by the PSC when an allegation is founded; and
- ensure that employees comply with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service or, in cases where the Treasury Board is not the employer, the applicable organizational code.
The PSC can provide guidance and assistance to DHs in fulfilling these obligations.
You will find attached a letter for employees which deals with both political candidacy and political activities. Please ensure that it is forwarded to employees in your organization.
Additional details can be obtained from the designated political activities representative in your organization. A list of designated political activities representatives and their contact information can be found at:
Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at 613-992-2788.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.
Maria Barrados, PhD
Public Service Commission
c.c: Chiefs of Staffing
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