Strengthened Senate Code welcomed by Senate Ethics Officer



    OTTAWA, June 11 /CNW Telbec/ - In his third Annual Report, the Senate
Ethics Officer, Jean T. Fournier, welcomed the changes to the Conflict of
Interest Code for Senators which were adopted by the Senate on May 29, 2008
following a comprehensive review by the Standing Committee on Conflict of
Interest for Senators, the first such review since the adoption of the Code in
May 2005. The Annual Report covers the period from April 1, 2007 to March 31,
2008 and details the activities of the office for the year.
    "I began my appointment in 2005 amid questions about the Senate Code,"
said Mr. Fournier. "I firmly believe that the changes will strengthen the
Code, and thereby enhance confidence among the public that expected standards
are being upheld effectively, and confidence among Senators that they are
being treated fairly and reasonably. As Canadians expect a rising standard of
ethical conduct from their parliamentarians, there will always be more to do.
But the new measures represent real progress. With these changes, the Senate
ethics regime bears favourable comparison with those in many other
jurisdictions."

    The key amendments recommended by the Committee and approved by the
Senate include:

    
    - the formal recognition under the Code of the independent status of the
      Senate Ethics Officer in the interpretation and application of the Code
      as it relates to individual senators;
    - requiring senators to abstain from debate in the Senate or in a
      committee of the Senate when 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;
    - the requirement that senators meet with the Senate Ethics Officer when
      he advises such a meeting is necessary to carry out his duties and
      functions under the Code, as part of the annual disclosure process.
    

    "I have appreciated the interest of the Committee in the views of my
office, and I am pleased that the Committee saw fit to accept many of my
recommendations," said Mr. Fournier.
    The Annual Report reveals that, over the last year, the Senate Ethics
Officer provided some 250 opinions and advice to senators, both formal and
informal, of varying degree of complexity. Speaking of his report,
Mr. Fournier said: "My approach, since my appointment, has been to encourage
senators to request my advice as often as possible, especially in cases of
doubt, prior to taking action. I believe that this results in prevention - and
prevention is not only in the interest of senators, but it is also in the
public interest. When it concerns conflicts of interest, prevention is indeed
the best medicine."

    The Senate Ethics Officer is an independent Officer of the Senate whose
primary responsibility is to administer, interpret and apply the Conflict of
Interest Code for Senators.

    For more information about the Annual Report, please visit the Senate
Ethics Office website: www.parl.gc.ca/seo-cse




For further information:

For further information: Louise Dalphy, (613) 947-3566, Fax (613)
947-3577

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