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Code of Professional Conduct for Election Administrators

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EC 10044 (08/15)

A Message from the Chief Electoral Officer

As the Chief Electoral Officer, I share your commitment to preserving electors' trust and confidence in the electoral process. The Code of Professional Conduct for Election Administrators has been updated to help you apply Elections Canada's core values to your work. It is built on the understanding that we can and should show Canadians that our work is dictated by standards designed to strengthen public trust in the integrity and transparency of the electoral process.

The principles set out in the Code of Professional Conduct for Election Administrators guide the work you do, provide a baseline for questions and remind you how Elections Canada's core values can be applied in various situations. I believe that the Code of Professional Conduct for Election Administrators reflects the fact that elections administrators work to the highest ethical standards every day. I thank you for your ongoing commitment and dedication to the federal electoral process.

Marc Mayrand
Chief Electoral Officer

Notice to Readers

The Code shall take effect August 21, 2015, and replaces the Code of Professional Conduct for Election Administrators EC 10044 (01/07).

Unless otherwise specified, words and phrases in the Code of Professional Conduct for Election Administrators have the same meaning as in the Canada Elections Act.

The obligations set out in the Code of Professional Conduct for Election Administrators apply in the context of a referendum with any necessary modifications.

1. Introduction

The Code of Professional Conduct for Election Administrators (Code) has been developed to reflect the mission and values of Elections Canada (EC) and to guide the day-to-day activities of election administrators (EA). In adhering to the Code, you, as an EA, ensure that EC maintains the public's trust and serves Canadians with the highest degree of integrity and transparency.

1.1 Instruction and application

The Code is an instruction issued by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) pursuant to paragraph 16(c) of the Canada Elections Act (CEA), with which you must comply. The Code applies to EAs appointed under the CEA, that is, to returning officers (RO), assistant returning officers (ARO), additional assistant returning officers (AARO) and field liaison officers (FLO).

By extension, the values reflected in the Code should also influence the recruitment, training and expected behaviour of election officers (EO) as they are defined under section 22(1) of the CEA.

1.2 Elections Canada's mission and values

EC's mission involves ensuring that Canadians can exercise their democratic rights to vote and to be a candidate. Day-to-day activities and decision-making processes are guided by the following key values:

1.3 Guiding principles

As an EA, you must act in such a manner as to:

2. Obligations under the Code

2.1 Avoiding real or perceived conflicts of interest

To minimize the possibility of conflicts arising between private interests and public duties, upon appointment and throughout your tenure as an EA you must:

Note: For the purpose of this Code "family" is defined as persons who are connected to another by blood, adoption and marriage or legally recognized common-law relationship. This includes father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife, common-law spouses and their children, grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews and nieces and all such connections who are in-law, step and foster.

2.2 Ensuring impartiality and non-partisanship

Impartiality, non-partisanship and neutrality are fundamental pillars in the administration of an election and are central to the performance of your duties as an EA. These apply to all levels of government, whether federal, provincial, territorial or municipal.

Therefore you must not behave, take part in any activity, or make a statement in any form, directly or indirectly, in a manner or capacity that may be construed as supporting or opposing any political entity. For more certainty but without limiting the previous statement as an EA you must:

ROs must ensure that office work continues during their absence by advising EC and their ARO every time that they will be unable to perform their duties.

2.3 Managing an office

As an EA, if you are managing an office, you must act in a manner beyond reproach to ensure that:

2.4 Appointing election officers

Notwithstanding the requirement by law to appoint certain EOs from list of names provided by candidates, an electoral district association or a registered party, EOs must be appointed on the basis of merit. EOs must possess the necessary skills and qualifications to perform the duties of their position.

Your family members cannot be appointed to any position, other than as a polling day official (i.e. as a deputy returning officer, poll clerk, central poll supervisor, registration officer and information officer) without written permission from EC prior to their appointment. Before you request permission to hire a member of your family, you must clearly document your efforts to hire another qualified person on the basis of merit.

2.5 Using social media

EC uses social media to communicate with or respond to enquiries from the public. Designated officials have been authorized to use social media to officially represent EC. As an EA, you are not a designated social media spokesperson, and therefore you cannot use social media to represent EC unless you have been pre-authorized to do so in writing by EC. It is important to note that the reach of social media goes beyond an electoral district and is in most cases monitored at the national level by different stakeholders, political or otherwise, including the media.

As an EA however, you can use your own social media accounts to share information that is pertinent to the electors within your electoral district provided that you apply the same guided principles of transparency, impartiality and non-partisanship that you would normally use using traditional methods of information sharing such as telephone, in person, e-mail, etc.

When using your social media accounts for personal and professional use you must:

2.6 Business transactions and contracting

All business transactions and contracting related to the management of your office must be based on impartiality, transparency and neutrality. As an EA, you must ensure the proper, effective and efficient use of public funds. This also applies to transactions paid with an acquisition card or from a petty cash fund. Business transactions must be conducted in a manner that complies with the applicable laws and government policies. They must withstand public scrutiny in matters of prudence and honesty, facilitate access, encourage competition and reflect fairness while achieving best value. As such:

3. Compliance with the Code

EAs must comply with the instructions set out in the Code. Failure to do so may result in removal from office.

While this code as an instruction is comprehensive and stands alone, it should be read in conjunction with the applicable provisions of the law, namely the Canada Elections Act, the Referendum Act, and the procedures set out in the RO's Manual.

If you have any doubts, you should contact EC for advice and direction

3.1 Offences in the Canada Elections Act

If the CEO believes on reasonable grounds that you as an EA have committed an offence against the Canada Elections Act, he will inform the Commissioner of Canada Elections who may proceed with an investigation as required by the circumstances; the Commissioner may then refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

3.2 Violations of the Code of Conduct

If, in the CEO's opinion, you may have violated the Code, an inquiry will be initiated. You will be informed of the type and terms of the inquiry; and, you be given the opportunity to comment on any findings.

Upon concluding the inquiry and depending on the severity of the violations, you will be informed of the measures that will be taken. These measures may include a note to file or a requirement for remedial training. Depending on the severity of the violation, the process to remove a returning officer pursuant to section 24(7) of the Canada Elections Act, or a field liaison officer under section 23.2(9) may be commenced.

When in doubt, election administrators should contact the Elections Canada Support Network by phone at 1-888-677-0301 or by e-mail at

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