Political activities investigations

The Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) recognizes the right of employees to engage in political activities while maintaining the principle of political impartiality in the public service. Employees may engage in any political activities so long as it does not impair, or is not perceived as impairing, the employee's ability to perform his or her duties in a politically impartial manner.

For more information on political activities, including the definition of a political activity, please visit the Public Service Commission's (PSC) political activities Web site.

Investigations of improper political activities

According to sections 118 and 119 of the PSEA, only the PSC can investigate allegations of improper political activities by federal public service employees.

If the investigation establishes that there was an improper political activity, the PSC can order any corrective action that it considers appropriate.

The PSC can conduct investigations related to:

  • Candidacy in a federal, provincial, territorial, or municipal election;
  • Political activities in support of, within or in opposition to a political party;
  • Political activities in support of or in opposition to a candidate before or during an election period; or
  • A deputy head who engaged in any political activity other than voting in an election.

Anyone can make an allegation of improper political activity against an employee; however, only a person who is or has been a candidate in an election can submit an allegation regarding improper political activity of a deputy head.

In order to determine if a political activity impairs or is perceived as impairing an employee's ability to perform their duties in a politically impartial manner, the PSC will look at several factors, namely:

  • The nature of the person's duties;
  • The level and visibility of their position and duties; and
  • The nature of the political activity.

For examples of improper political activities investigated by the PSC, please visit our investigation summaries Web page.