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EthicsThe Senate Ethics Officer is responsible for the administration, interpretation and application of the Conflict of Interest Code for Senators (PDF), which was adopted in 2005. They key obligations under the Code are listed below.

In addition to providing advice to Senators on how to meet their obligations under the Code, the Officer oversees an annual disclosure process provided for by the Code. The Public Registry includes regularly updated information concerning each Senator on assets and liabilities, outside activities, gifts or other benefits, travel and declarations of private interests.

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Key Obligations of Senators Under the Conflict of Interest Code

  1. Senators may not act in any way to further their private interests, or those of their family members, or to improperly further another person’s or entity’s private interests when performing parliamentary duties and functions (section 8).
  2. Senators may not use their position to influence a decision of another person in order to further their own private interests, or those of their family members, or to improperly further another person’s or entity’s private interests (section 9).
  3. Senators may not use information that is generally not available to the public to further their own private interests, or those of their family members, or to improperly further another person’s or entity’s private interests (section 10).
  4. Senators are expected to make a declaration, orally or in writing, when they have reasonable grounds to believe that they or their family members have a private interest that might be affected by a matter that is before the Senate or a committee of the Senate in which they are members (subsection 12(1)). They may not participate in debate on that matter, nor are they permitted to vote, though they may abstain (subsections 13(1) and (2) and section 14). In the case of committees, senators must also withdraw from the proceedings (subsection 13(2)). With respect to senators who are only participating in committee proceedings, but are not formal members, they too must refrain from participating in debate on any matter in which they have reasonable grounds to believe they have a private interest and they too must withdraw from the proceedings in question (subsection 13(3)).
  5. Senators may not accept, nor may a family member accept, any gift or other benefit that could reasonably be considered to relate to their position, except as permitted under the Code. Gifts, benefits and sponsored travel that are acceptable under the Code must be declared to the Senate Ethics Officer if they exceed $500.00 in value (sections 17 and 18) and these must be publicly declared pursuant to paragraph 31(1)(j).
  6. Senators may not be parties to, or have interests in corporations or partnerships that are parties to, contracts with the Government of Canada under which they receive a benefit, unless specifically authorized by the Senate Ethics Officer (sections 20-26).
  7. Senators are expected to disclose their private interests to the Senate Ethics Officer on an annual basis and those interests required to be publicly disclosed under the Code are then placed on the public record (sections 27-34).
  8. Senators must report to the Senate Ethics Officer any material change to the information in their confidential disclosure statements, within the prescribed time (subsection 28(6)).
  9. Senators must cooperate with the Senate Ethics Officer with respect to any inquiry (subsection 44(12)).
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