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Ethics and Integrity in the RCMP

Ethics and Integrity in the RCMP

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is a national government organization in which all Canadians take pride. In order to keep this confidence, we have a responsibility to meet the high expectations of Canadians in both our personal and professional conduct. Our ethical behavior must be evident in everything we do.

This brochure helps set out the ethical issues surrounding the relationship between the RCMP and the private sector as well as identify legislation that must be considered when decisions are made. It covers the areas of conflict of interest, post-retirement guidelines, hospitality and acceptance of gifts, the sponsorship program and proprietary information.

The operations of the RCMP are carried out by dedicated employees in all job categories. All employees of the RCMP are responsible for ensuring we maintain a professional relationship with our business partners. While we rely on our alliances with private-sector businesses, the Canadian public expects us to ensure that public funds are spent efficiently and in the public’s best interest.

RCMP ethical standards are based on six core values: integrity, honesty, professionalism, compassion, respect and accountability . These core values make up the basis of every decision we make and help us determine how we should conduct ourselves everyday. Closely following these values allows employees to make informed and ethical judgements in business dealings and the workplace. It is critical that we make sound decisions as we are accountable for them in the end.

Common sense and this guide provide a framework to help us make choices. Your own judgement and values will be at the core of your behaviour and for which you will be held accountable.

We also believe it is essential that the Canadian public and our business partners have a clear understanding of our obligations and standards. In setting out clear obligations, I believe we will maintain the trust that the Canadian public has placed in us.

Conflict of Interest

Consistent with our core values of integrity, honesty, professionalism, compassion, respect and accountability, employees are to avoid any actual, apparent or potential conflicts of interest. This applies to everyday work responsibilities and conduct. All employees must continue to uphold the organization’s high standards and conduct themselves in ways that enhance the image of the RCMP. This image can be harmed by cases of outside individuals perceived to have benefitted inappropriately from their dealings with the RCMP.

Employees are to respect existing policy in relation to gifts, hospitality and benefits; declining those which are prohibited and reporting those which may be permitted. Employees are to avoid being under an obligation, or the perception of obligation, to a person or organization that might benefit from special consideration. They are to avoid preferential treatment of family, friends, and organizations in which they have an interest, in relation to official matters.

As per Section 37 of the RCMP Act and Part 1, Principles, of the conflict of interest and Post-Employment code for the Publiv Service it is essential to ensure that an employee’s duties are completed without a conflict of interest, either real or perceived. All steps must be taken to ensure impartiality and fairness in relationships as well as to protect the image of the RCMP in such areas as gifts, hospitality and secondary employment.

The onus is on the employee to take whatever actions are necessary to avoid being placed in a position of conflict of interest.

Gifts

Gifts, hospitality or other benefits that could influence employees in their judgement and performance of official duties and responsibilities must be declined. Employees must not accept, directly or indirectly, any gifts, hospitality or other benefits that are offered by persons, groups or organizations having dealings with the government.

Accepting offers of incidental gifts, hospitality or other benefits arising out of activities associated with the routine performance of their official duties and responsibilities is not prohibited if such gifts, hospitality or other benefits:

  • are within the bounds of propriety, a normal expression of courtesy or within the normal standards of hospitality;
  • must not bring suspicion on the employee’s objectivity and impartiality; and
  • would not compromise the integrity of the RCMP or Government of Canada.

It may be exceptionally difficult to decline gifts, hospitality or other benefits offered by individuals or organizations from different cultures with particular approaches to gifts. In such cases, every effort should be made to decline the gifts without offending the persons involved. The inherent call for personal judgement is amplified here. If it is not possible to decline the gift, hospitality or other benefits, employees must immediately report the matter to a manager or supervisor. The manager or supervisor may require that a gift of this nature be retained by the RCMP or be disposed of for charitable purposes.

All gifts, awards and bequests, if they are money or converted into money, acquired in connection with the performance of a regular or civilian member’s duties are to be deposited into the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the account of the Benefit Trust Fund . Public Service employees are required to turn over gifts to the RCMP via their supervisor.

While the RCMP recognizes customary business practices such as offering and accepting gifts or providing and receiving hospitality benefits, it is expected that all employees of the RCMP, regardless of status, respect the law and government policies. This is especially true in the operations of the RCMP where there is a greater onus on employees to exercise discretion.

It is important to note that this guide also applies when the RCMP is the organization acting as host. It is critical that all RCMP sponsored events and their respective budgets conform to Treasury Board policy and RCMP procedures and guidelines and be approved before any funds are dispersed.

Case Study 1: Accepting gifts

Bob, the NCO in charge of a drug squad, is asked to dine with a local pharmacist to discuss work issues and the pharmacist insists on paying for Bob’s meal. Should Bob accept the meal?

Factors to consider:

  • What is the reason for the free meal?
  • Is Bob in a position to influence any decision affecting the company or organization?
  • How does it make Bob feel?
  • How would Bob’s peers, colleagues, and the general public react if they knew?
  • Will Bob’s integrity and his objectivity be compromised or perceived to be compromised by accepting the gift?

Suggested Solution:
The Conflict of Interest and Post Employment Code states that acceptance of gifts, hospitality or other benefits that could influence, or be perceived to have influenced, employees in their judgement and performance of their official duties and responsibilities is not permitted.

Depending on the reason for the invitation, alternative avenues should be explored which would achieve the same results. For example: a one-on-one discussion can help promote better communications and understanding therefore a meeting at the office, parties paying for their own meal and declining the dinner may be the option. If you are in doubt or unclear as to the appropriate course of action, don’t accept the gift or contact your immediate supervisor.

Secondary Employment — Outside Activities

Employees must seek approval from a supervisor prior to engaging in any outside activity (including secondary employment) which is likely to give rise to a real, potential or apparent conflict of interest. It is an employee’s responsibility to report any outside activity that is directly or indirectly related to the employee’s duties.

Members should not accept remuneration from any government department, agency, or Crown corporation without permission as per section 55 of the RCMP Regulations.

All employees must arrange their personal affairs in a manner that ensures they are able to meet their obligations to the RCMP, including, where applicable, emergency duties.

Post-Employment Guidelines

Employees must not take improper advantage of their work experience and/or position after leaving the Force. Restrictions on post-employment may apply, especially in the time period immediately following departure from the Force. (For more information, see Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for the Public Service)

Use of RCMP (Government of Canada) Equipment

The unauthorized personal use of RCMP equipment is prohibited. This applies to such items as computers and vehicles. Authorized personal use of vehicles is subject to current “personal use” in the Income Tax Act and Treasury Board Circular 1987-34: Executive Vehicles.

Use of the RCMP Name and Image

The RCMP image enjoys world-wide recognition as a primary symbol of Canada and as such it is often assumed that this image is in the public domain and can be used without restriction. This is not the case. Use of the RCMP image is in fact strictly regulated pursuant to provisions in the Trade-marks Act , Copyright Act and the RCMP Act .

The RCMP name and a series of RCMP images are also protected from unauthorized use by virtue of their designation as “Official mark” pursuant to paragraph 9(1)(n) of the Trade-marks Act . No person may use these “Official marks” without the consent of the RCMP. Contact Public Affairs and Information Directorate for more information.

RCMP Sponsorship Program

Since the genesis of the RCMP national sponsorship program in the early 1990s, the issue of ethics and conflict of interest have been at the very core of its strategic development and implementation. Beginning in 1995, the RCMP sponsorship guidelines and toolkit were developed to include sections on ethics, conflict of interest and rigorous and transparent financial accounting.

When pursuing a sponsorship agreement it is essential that all arrangements are developed on a firm foundation of ethics and a strong integrity-based approach. The policy centre for guidance on procedures and risk management assessment mechanism is Strategic Partnerships and Heritage Branch, Public Affairs and Information Directorate, at National Headquarters. Staff will be able to directly help individuals seeking advice and will guide them to toolkits developed to inform them on ways to proceed.

Protection of Information

RCMP employees will take all necessary steps to protect third party proprietary information, in compliance with the spirit and intent of the Access to Information Act .

There are some exemptions to the release of information. This includes, but is not limited to, security issues and proprietary information. By law, federal institutions are required to protect some proprietary information or information given in confidence by private sector suppliers of goods and services. For example trade secrets, financial, commercial, scientific and technical information confidentially supplied to a government institution can be exempted from disclosure. However, to qualify, this information must always have been treated with confidence by the third party. Information in which a disclosure could result in financial loss or prejudice the competitive position of the third party or interfere with contractual negotiations can be exempted. This is by no means an exhaustive list of exemptions but serves to act as a guide. Please refer to the Access to Information Act for more information

It is important to note that suppliers of goods and services to the RCMP have similar obligations. All contracts must comply with Treasury Board and RCMP policies, standards and guidelines such as establishing safeguards for the protection of classified information provided to the supplier for the purposes of their contracts.

Case Study 2:

Bob, an RCMP member, has a house-sitting business. He waters plants, cares for pets, picks up mail, and so forth. Bob’s business has always been steady, but he has received even more requests since he gave his RCMP-issued pager number to potential clients.

Bob’s calling card for his personal business is truly a conversation piece. In addition to describing the services he offers, his card boasts of his 15 years with the RCMP. The motto on Bob’s card reads: “If you find you need to roam, have a Mountie watch your home.” Bob’s RCMP pager number, RCMP telephone number and RCMP e-mail address are also on his card.

Bob knows that some of his RCMP colleagues do not appreciate all of the time he dedicates to his house-sitting business while he is at his RCMP job. Bob figures they are jealous that he is so ambitious. Is Bob acting appropriately?

Suggested Solution:
Bob’s actions are inconsistent with several principles found in the Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for the Public Service . These principles, noted as below, apply to all employees of the RCMP.

  • Employees shall arrange their private affairs in a manner that will prevent real, potential or apparent conflicts of interest from arising but if such a conflict does arise between the private interests of an employee and the official duties and responsibilities of that employee, the conflict shall be resolved in favour of the public interest.
  • Employees shall not directly or indirectly use, or allow the use of, government property of any kind, including property leased to the government, for anything other than officially approved activities.
  • Employees have an obligation to act in a manner that will bear the closest public scrutiny, an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law.

Related References
RCMP Act
RCMP Regulations, 1988
Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for the Public Service
(Section 27/28)
Guiding Principles of the RCMP
Criminal Code of Canada
R vs Hinchey

Related Websites:

  • The Access to Information and Privacy Acts are available for viewing at the Department of Justice Canada website under laws of Canada: www.canada.justice.gc.ca
  • Treasury Board of Canada: www.tbs-sct.gc.ca

Contact

  • Values and Ethics Office
    73 Leikin Drive,
    Building M4-3 Suite 622
    Mailstop 58
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0R2

    General Office: 613-843-6595 or 613-843-6625
    Fax: 613-825-8234
    TTY/TDD: 613-993-2232 (Collect calls accepted)
    E-mail