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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Saskatchewan Justice

The Members' Conflict of Interest Act sets out the duties of Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and members of Executive Council with respect to conflict of interest. It also sets out the prohibitions with respect to conflict of interest.

Conflict of Interest

A member has a conflict of interest when the member makes a decision in the performance of his or her public duty knowing that such a decision may further:

  • his or her private interest;
  • his or her family's private interest; or
  • the private interest of a business associate.

Family means the member's spouse and dependent children but does not include a spouse living apart from the member.

A member who has reason to believe he or she has a conflict of interest in a matter before the Assembly or Executive Council must disclose the conflict of interest and refrain from participating in any consideration of the matter.

Office of the Conflicts Commissioner

The Act creates an Office of the Conflicts Commissioner to assist Members of the Legislative Assembly with disclosure statements and to review possible conflicts of interest for both MLAs and members of Executive Council.

The Commissioner is an officer of the Assembly, appointed by resolution of the Assembly.

Conduct of members

A member must not:

  • use information gained in the performance of public office that is not available to the general public to further the member's private interest, his or her family's private interest or the private interest of an associate; or
  • use his or her office to influence a decision made by another person to further the member's private interest, his or her family's private interest or the private interest of an associate.

No member or any of the member's family is allowed to accept a fee, gift or personal benefit connected directly or indirectly with the performance of the member's public duties except where doing so is incidental to protocol or social obligations that normally accompany the responsibilities of office.

No department, secretariat, office, Crown corporation of the Government of Saskatchewan, or corporation in which the Government of Saskatchewan is a majority shareholder shall knowingly award a contract to, approve a contract with, or grant a benefit to:

  • a former member of the Executive Council or an associate of a former member until 12 months after the date the former member ceased to hold office; or
  • a former member of the Executive Council who has solicited a contract or benefit or a person on whose behalf a former member has solicited a contract or benefit during the 12 months after the date the former member ceased to hold office.

If, in the Commissioner's opinion, a conflict with official duties and responsibilities is likely to result or to be seen to result, members of Executive Council shall not:

  • engage in any trade, occupation or employment or in the practice of any profession;
  • manage or operate a business; or
  • hold an office or directorship in any corporation, organization or association.

Disclosure

Every member must file a disclosure statement with the Commissioner within 90 days of a member's election and annually thereafter. The disclosure statement contains detailed information about the member and member's family's assets, liabilities, income and other financial interests, as well as information about any directorships or offices held by the member or the member's family.

After filing a disclosure statement, the member and the member's spouse must consult with the Commissioner to ensure that adequate disclosure has been made or to obtain advice and direction on the member's obligations under the Act.

Public Disclosure Statement

After the Commissioner is satisfied the disclosure statement complies with the Act and the regulations, he or she files a public disclosure statement with the Clerk of the Assembly.

Public disclosure statements are available for public inspection during the normal business hours of the office of the Clerk of the Assembly.

A public disclosure statement includes:

  • the name and the address of each business in which the member or the member's family has an interest or from which the member or the member's family is paid for services as an employee, officer, director, trustee, partner or owner;
  • the name and the address of each corporation, organization or association of which the member or the member's family is an officer, director or member; and
  • information about the identity of member's or the member's family's investments and real property.

The value or amount of any items in a public disclosure statement are not disclosed except if, in the Commissioner's opinion, knowledge of the value or amount is necessary to protect the public interest.

The Commissioner may also exclude from a public disclosure statement:

  • a source of income received by the member's spouse or child if, in the Commissioner's opinion, the possibility of harm to the business of the member's spouse or child justifies the departure from the general principle of public disclosure; and
  • the name and address of a corporation, organization or association of which any of a member's family is an officer or director if, in the Commissioner's opinion, the exclusion is a justifiable departure from the general principle of public disclosure.

Any information included in a member's disclosure statement but not included in the member's public disclosure statement is confidential.

Commissioner's opinion and advice

A member may request the Commissioner give an opinion and recommendation on any matter respecting the obligations of the member under the Act. The Commissioner's opinion and recommendations are confidential but may be released by the member or with the written consent of the member.

Notwithstanding the prohibition with respect to government contracts, a member may apply to the Commissioner for approval to participate in a government contract.

Referral of opinion and inquiries

A member who has reasonable and probable grounds to believe another member is in contravention of this Act may request the Commissioner give an opinion respecting the other member's compliance with the Act. The member making the request must provide the member who is the subject of the request with a copy of the application.

In addition, the Assembly may request the Commissioner give an opinion on any matter respecting a member's compliance with the Act. The Premier may also request the Commissioner give an opinion on any matter respecting a member of the Executive Council's compliance with the Act.

When the request for an opinion is made by another member or by the Assembly, the Commissioner must report his or her opinion to the Speaker and to the member who is the subject of the opinion. The Speaker must then lay the opinion before the Assembly.

When the request for an opinion is made by the Premier, the Commissioner must report his or her opinion to the Premier.

In conducting an inquiry, the Commissioner may comment on the conduct of former members of the Assembly and former or current government or Crown corporation employees.

Former Cabinet Members

For a period of 12 months after leaving office, it is an offence for a former member of the Executive Council to knowingly:

  • accept a contract or benefit or be an associate of a person who has received a contract or benefit;
  • solicit a contract or benefit on his or her own behalf or on behalf of another person; or
  • accept a contract or benefit from any person to solicit a contract or benefit
    with respect to a contract or benefit that is or is to be awarded by a department, secretariat, office, Crown corporation of the Government of Saskatchewan, or corporation in which the Government of Saskatchewan is a majority shareholder.

A former Cabinet member may apply to the Commissioner for an exemption from the 1-year prohibition on a case-by-case basis. If an exemption is granted, the details are to be disclosed to the Assembly.



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