The Federal Accountability Act
(full title: "An Act providing for conflict of interest rules, restrictions on election financing and measures respecting administrative transparency, oversight and accountability
") is a statute introduced as Bill C-2 in the first session of the 39th Canadian Parliament
The 39th Canadian Parliament was in session from April 3, 2006 until September 7, 2008. The membership was set by the 2006 federal election on January 23, 2006, and it has changed only somewhat due to resignations and by-elections...
on April 11, 2006, by the President of the Treasury Board
The position of President of the Treasury Board was created as a ministerial position in the Canadian Cabinet in 1966 when the Treasury Board became a full-fledged department. From 1867 to 1966 the Treasury Board had been part of the Department of Finance....
, John Baird
John Russell Baird, PC, MP is a Canadian politician currently serving as the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the cabinet of Prime Minister Stephen Harper....
. The plan aims to reduce the opportunity to exert influence with money by banning corporate, union, and large personal political donations; five-year lobbying ban on former ministers, their aides, and senior public servants; providing protection for whistle blowers; and enhancing the power for the Auditor General to follow the money spent by the government.
Notably, the bill comes at a time when the significance of political advocacy groups in electoral campaigns is increasing in Canada. The act limits and reveals the funding of political parties, but is blind to possible undue monetary influence on government policy by advocacy groups. Notable examples are the National Citizens Coalition, the Council of Canadians, and Ontarians For Responsible Government.
The bill (now a law) also aims to increase transparency of government spending, and establish clearer links between approved expenditures and their outcomes. (Previous legislation required linkage between expenditures and 'purpose', rather than outcomes.)
The bill was passed by the House of Commons
The House of Commons of Canada is a component of the Parliament of Canada, along with the Sovereign and the Senate. The House of Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 308 members known as Members of Parliament...
on June 22, 2006, by the Senate on November 9, 2006, and was granted royal assent
The granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law...
on December 12, 2006.
The following are some of the major changes instituted by the Federal Accountability Act:
Auditing and accountability within departments
Independent Oversight Offices
- One of the biggest changes recommended by the Gomery Commission that was implemented in the FAA is that deputy ministers were made "accounting officers," required to report directly to Parliament (as opposed to through their ministers) on the financial administration of their respective departments.
- A mechanism to resolve disputes between ministers and deputy ministers, and to document such resolutions, was also created.
The FAA created a host of new, independent offices who report directly to Parliament on the administration of the government.
New limits on individual donations to parties and candidates
- The Commissioner of Lobbying replaced the Registrar of Lobbyists as a fully independent office with greater investigative powers.
- The Parliamentary Budget Officer
The Parliamentary Budget Officer was established in 2006 and is mandated by the Parliament of Canada Act to provide independent analysis to the Senate and House of Commons on the state of Canada's finances, the government’s estimates and trends in the national economy. It was one of the...
provides Parliament with objective analysis about the estimates of the government, the state of the nation's finances, and trends in the national economy.
- The Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
The office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner was one of the Independent Oversight Offices created as part of the Canadian Federal Accountability Act. The purpose of this office is to investigate mismanagement in the public sector...
promotes whistleblowing and protects whistleblowers from negative repercussions in the workplace.
- The Procurement Ombudsman investigates complaints against procurement practices in the government. It reviews procurement practices across government.
- The Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner administers the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons.
- The FAA prohibits gifts or other benefits to a candidate for political office that either does or appears like it is meant to influence his performance of that office if elected.
- The FAA limits an individual's political contributions to up to $1,100 to the various entities that make up a single political organization as follows: $1,100 to a registered party; $1,100 to a registered party’s candidates, nomination contestants, and constituency associations, collectively; and $1,100 to leadership contestants collectively. (Pg. 23)
- The FAA imposed a ban on contributions from corporations, unions and organizations to parties and candidates.
- Candidate must report to Chief Electoral Officer all gifts over $500.
Public Appointments Commission
- The FAA prohibits senior public officials from engaging in lobbying for 5 years after their employment has ceased.
Access to information
- The FAA provided for the creation of a Public Appointments Commission to develop guidelines, review and approve the selection processes proposed by Ministers to fill vacancies within their portfolios, and report publicly on the Government’s compliance with the guidelines. (However, no such Commission has yet been created.)
- The FAA increased the scope of the Access to Information Act. A number of Crown Corporations now fall within the scope of this legislation and can be called upon by the public to disclose their records.
- The Public Prosecution Service of Canada was made independent of the rest of the Department of Justice, although the Director of Public Prosecutions still reports to the Minister of Justice.
The Federal Accountability Act was the first bill to be tabled by the newly elected Conservative Government. It took about 9 months to pass and was significantly amended in the Senate.
The development of the FAA was informed by the Conservative Party election platform for the January 2006 election and by Phase 2 of the Gomery Report (Recommendations).
When delivering his sponsor's speech in Parliament, John Baird described it as the "toughest anti-corruption law ever passed in Canada," although this description is disputable.
The FAA is an omnibus legislation - one that amends a number of other statutes. It amended the following:
- Access to Information Act
Access to Information Act or Information Act is a Canadian act providing the right of access to information under the control of a government institution...
- Auditor General Act
The Auditor General Act is an Act of Parliament respecting the office of the Auditor General of Canada and sustainable development monitoring and reporting.-External links:*...
- Business Development Bank of Canada Act
- Canada Council for the Arts Act
- Canada Elections Act
Canada Elections Act is an Act of the Parliament of Canada respecting the election of members of parliament to the Canadian House of Commons, repealing other Acts relating to elections and making consequential amendments to other Acts....
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporations Act
- Canada Post Corporation Act
- Canada Revenue Agency Act
- Canadian Commercial Corporation Act
- Canadian Dairy Commission Act
- Canadian Race Relations Foundation Act
- Canadian Tourism Commission Act
- Canadian Wheat Board Act
- Cape Breton Development Corporation Act
- Conflict of Interest Act
- Criminal Code
The Criminal Code or Code criminel is a law that codifies most criminal offences and procedures in Canada. Its official long title is "An Act respecting the criminal law"...
- Department of Justice Act
- Department of Public Works and Government Services Act
- Director of Public Prosecutions Act
- Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation Act
- Export Development Act
- Farm Credit Canada Act
- Federal Courts Act
- Financial Administration Act
- First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act
- Freshwater Fish Marketing Act
- Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act
- Government Employees Compensation Act
- Income Tax Act
- Library and Archives of Canada Act
- Lobbyists Registration Act
- Museums Act
- National Arts Centre Act
- National Capital Act
- Non-smokers’ Health Act
- Official Languages Act
The Official Languages Act is a Canadian law that came into force on September 9, 1969, which gives English and French equal status in the government of Canada. This makes them "official" languages, having preferred status in law over all other languages...
- Parliament of Canada Act
- Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act
- Pilotage Act
- Privacy Act
- Public Sector Pension Investment Board Act
- Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act
- Public Service Employment Act
- Public Service Superannuation Act
- Radiocommunication Act
The Radiocommunication Act is an Act of Parliament respecting radiocommunication in Canada.-External links:*...
- Royal Canadian Mint Act
- Salaries Act
- Standards Council of Canada Act