House of Assembly
April 30, 2018
Remarks by Speaker of the House of Assembly
The following remarks were given in the House of Assembly today by the Honourable Perry Trimper, Speaker of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador:
Before we begin today, I would like to draw Members’ attention to the following.
As Speaker, I am the guardian of the privileges of the Members of this House, and the privileges of the House itself. I remind all Members that being elected comes with great responsibility. We all have a duty to those we represent, and it is vital that we maintain the highest standards to ensure that our conduct does not bring the integrity of our office or of the House of Assembly into disrepute.
Given recent events, I thought it would be appropriate to remind all members of our legislated responsibilities with respect to our Code of Conduct.
In his Report, "Rebuilding Confidence: Report of the Review Commission on Constituency Allowances and Related Matters", the Honourable Justice Derek Green stated:
“There is clearly a requirement for a code of conduct that articulates such things as:
- ethical standards and appropriate patterns of behavior;
- unacceptable business practices and inappropriate business relationships; and
- the recourse available to those who feel uncomfortable about possible violations of the code.”
Justice Green went on to note that:
“Many of the codes adopted are expressed in general, aspirational language. The intent of the Code is to set standards by which the behaviour of parliamentarians can be assessed and, in so doing, provide guidance to them so they can order their affairs on the basis of principle, not expediency or self-interest. “
Section 35 of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, requires this House have a Code of Conduct that:
a) provides guidance on the standards of conduct expected of members in discharging their legislative and public duties; and
b) provides the openness and accountability necessary to reinforce public confidence in the manner in which members perform those duties.
Our Code of Conduct was developed by Members of this House - the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections. It was passed by a resolution of the House on May 26, 2008.
Since then, every Member of this House swore or affirmed to uphold this Code of Conduct when we took our Oath of Office.
The Code is comprised of two commitments and 12 principles that include:
Members of this House of Assembly recognize that we are responsible to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and will responsibly execute our official duties in order to promote the human, environmental and economic welfare of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Members of this House of Assembly respect the law and the institution of the Legislature and acknowledge our need to maintain the public trust placed in us by performing our duties with accessibility, accountability, courtesy, honesty and integrity.
Amongst the Principles of the Code of Conduct, I would remind Members that:
- They …”shall conduct themselves in accordance with the provisions and spirit of the Standing Orders of the House of Assembly, the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, the Members’ Resources and Allowances Rules, the Elections Act, 1991, the House of Assembly Act and this Code of Conduct and shall ensure that their conduct does not bring the integrity of their office or the House of Assembly into disrepute.”
- It is a fundamental objective of their holding public office that Members serve their fellow citizens with integrity in order to improve the economic and social conditions of the people of the province.
- Members reject political corruption and refuse to participate in unethical political practices which tend to undermine the democratic traditions of our province and its institutions.
- Members will act lawfully and in a manner that will withstand the closest public scrutiny. Neither the law nor this code is designed to be exhaustive and there will be occasions on which Members will find it necessary to adopt more stringent norms of conduct in order to protect the public interest and to enhance public confidence and trust.
- Members will not engage in personal conduct that exploits for private reasons their positions or authorities or that would tend to bring discredit to their offices.
- Relationships between Members and government employees should be professional and based upon mutual respect and should have regard to the duty of those employees to remain politically impartial when carrying out their duties.
- Members should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.
- This Code of Conduct has a continuing effect except as amended or rescinded by resolution of the House of Assembly.
As noted in the Green Report, “If a code of conduct is to be an important element in a political system designed to foster public trust, it must be seen to be more than merely aspirational; in short, there must be some mechanism for achieving accountability.”
And further, “To achieve acceptability by the public, however, any code of conduct that is adopted must be seen to be administered impartially and independently of the political system to which it applies.”
To this end, administration of the Code of Conduct was assigned to the Commissioner of Legislative Standards, an independent statutory officer of this House and the accountability process for infractions of this code is prescribed in legislation under sections 36 through 42 of the House of Assembly Accountability Integrity and Administration Act.
Information regarding the Code of Conduct can be found on the House of Assembly website as follows:
- Code of Conduct: http://www.assembly.nl.ca/Members/MembersCodeOfConduct.aspx
- Members Oath of Office (as outlined in Section 5 of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act): http://www.assembly.nl.ca/Legislation/sr/statutes/h10-1.htm#5)
- Legislated complaint, investigation, reporting, and recourse framework (House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, refer sections 36-42): http://www.assembly.nl.ca/Legislation/sr/statutes/h10-1.htm#5)
- The process is overseen by an independent officer of the House (the Commissioner of Legislative Standards), who is given the same investigative powers as provided in the Public Inquires Act, 2006. The Commissioner’s website: http://www.legislativestandardscomm.gov.nl.ca/
- Additional information on the Code of Conduct, including how investigations can be initiated, recourse, etc., can be viewed here: http://www.assembly.nl.ca/Members/MembersCodeOfConductViolations.aspx
- 30 -
Policy and Communications Officer
House of Assembly
2018 04 30 1:50 p.m.