Communiqué from the President to Deputy Heads on the Federal Election Announcement


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The following message was sent to Deputy Heads on September 7, 2008.

Federal Election Announcement: Political Candidacy and Political Activities of Employees

September 7, 2008

To Deputy Heads

The federal election to be held on October 14, 2008, provides an opportunity to remind you and your employees of rights and responsibilities regarding political activities.

Political activity (other than seeking nomination or being a candidate)

Employees may engage in any political activity as long as it does not impair, or is not perceived as impairing, their ability to perform their duties in a politically impartial manner as provided in the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA). Whether a political activity will impair that impartiality, or will be perceived as doing so, depends on factors such as the nature of the political activity, the nature of the employee's duties and the level and visibility of his or her position.

A political activity is defined by the PSEA as: 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; or seeking nomination as or being a candidate in an election before or during the election period.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) has developed a guidance document and a self-assessment tool to help employees who may consider engaging in political activity. Employees are also encouraged to discuss their specific circumstances with their manager or with the designated political activity representative in your organization. These documents and the list of designated political activity representatives who can provide guidance on political activities and candidacy can be found on the PSC Web sites.

Seeking nomination and being a candidate

An employee who wants to seek nomination as, and be, a candidate during a federal election must request and obtain permission and a leave of absence without pay from the PSC. The PSC will grant permission and leave if it is satisfied that seeking nomination as or being a candidate will not impair, or be perceived as impairing, the employee's ability to perform his or her duties in a politically impartial manner. If the employee is declared elected, he or she ceases to be an employee of the public service.

Further information on this process, as well as the forms to be completed, can be found on the PSC Web site.

Allegations and investigations

The PSC may investigate any allegation 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. If the allegation is founded, the PSC may take any corrective action that it considers appropriate, including dismissing the employee.

Responsibilities of deputy heads

The PSEA makes clear that a deputy head (DH) shall not engage in any political activity other than voting in an election.

With respect to political activities of your employees, your role is to inform them about their rights and responsibilities should they wish to engage in political activities, and about the process for obtaining permission to be a political candidate. Deputy heads should action immediately leave without pay (LWOP) for employees who have received permission to be a candidate and have been granted LWOP from the PSC for the election period.

You should note that activities that do not fall under the PSEA's definition of political activity may be subject to the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service (the Code) or, in cases where Treasury Board is not the employer, to the organization's applicable code.

You will find attached a communiqué to employees which deals with both political candidacy and political activities. Please ensure that it is forwarded to employees in your organization.

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

Attachment: Communiqué to Employees

Heads of Human Resources
Heads of Communications