Communiqué to employees

Subject: Federal Election Announcement: Political Candidacy and Political Activities of Employees During an Election Period

The federal election to be held on October 14, 2008, provides an opportunity to remind you of your 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. These documents can be found on the PSC Web site.

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 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.

Where to get advice

More information can be obtained from the designated political activities representative in your organization. If you are unsure whether a political activity you wish to engage in could be problematic, you are encouraged to discuss your specific circumstances with your manager and/or with the designated political activities representative of your organization. The list of departmental and agency political activities designates and their telephone numbers, information on requesting permission to be a political candidate and documents to be completed, can be obtained on the PSC Web site.

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.

We look forward to the co-operation of all employees in maintaining the tradition of political neutrality of the Canadian public service and enhancing public confidence in its integrity, professionalism and impartiality.

Maria Barrados, PhD
President
Public Service Commission