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ARTICLE - « Senate, ethics », Raynell Andreychuk, Serge Joyal, The Globe and Mail


John Ibbitson raises concerns about the Senate and ethics, suggesting "an independent office to study allegations of breaches ... with the verdict and any prescribed punishment from that office binding" (Details About New Red Chamber Plan Are Becoming Clear - Nov. 2).

In 2005, the Senate adopted a Conflict of Interest Code to govern the conduct of its members and a Senate Ethics Officer was appointed. At the same time, similar provisions were implemented at the House of Commons. The code has been amended a number of times as part of an ongoing process to adapt its provisions to contemporary realities and to enhance public confidence and trust in the Senate and senators.

Changes adopted in 2014 asserted the full independence of the Ethics Officer in the assessment, process and findings with regard to complaints against a senator.

The Ethics Officer may speak publicly about the provisions of the code and matters of public interest with respect to ongoing investigations. All inquiry reports from the Ethics Officer are made public; the Standing Committee On Ethics And Conflict Of Interest For Senators recommends appropriate sanctions to the Senate, which has the final say.

This power is consistent with ethics regimes throughout Canada that recognize the parliamentary and constitutional authority of a legislative assembly to discipline its members.

Raynell Andreychuk, chair; Serge Joyal, deputy chair, Standing Committee On Ethics And Conflict Of Interest For Senators