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Disclosure of personal finances
Every member must file a private disclosure statement with the Commissioner within 60 days of being elected. This disclosure captures information about a member's financial, legal, business, and community status for the period twelve months before their election, and looking twelve months into the future. Specifically, the disclosure looks at:
- Sources and amounts of income;
- Descriptions and values of assets, including all investments and properties owned;
- Details about ownership of companies;
- Details of any contracts with the government of P.E.I.;
- Descriptions and values of liabilities, including mortgages and credit cards;
- Description of directorships and volunteer positions held;
- Details of pension entitlements;
- Details of all unpaid taxes;
- Details about ongoing lawsuits and any ongoing support obligations;
- Details of any guarantees given or loans co-signed.
The Private Disclosure Forms members are required to fill in are available for review on the Legislative Assembly's website.
What about the spouse and/or children of an MLA?
Under the Conflict of Interest Act, everyone who is part of a member's immediate household - a spouse/partner, minor children, or adult children residing with and dependent upon the member - are required to disclose the same level of information as is required of a member (and listed above).
Once the full private disclosure has been filed, members are required to meet with the Commissioner to review their filing and find out more about the Commissioner's work. Spouses/partners are welcome to attend the meeting with the member to ask questions and find out more about how the Office of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner is there to help.
For a member, a Cabinet appointment brings with it additional changes and restrictions. As a Minister, a member cannot:
- continue their regular employment
- manage a business
- hold directorships not related to their duties as a Minister (unless in a social club, religious organization, or political party)
- hold or trade in stocks and securities (including those held in a self-administered RRSP or RESP).
If a Minister wishes to keep their business interest(s), stocks, and securities, they must be put into a trust managed by a trustee at arm's length from the Minister. A trust agreement establishes the trust which, along with the trustee, must be approved by the Commissioner.
What information is made public?
Part of the Commissioner's job is to make public selected details of a member’s disclosure statement, along with selected details of any spouse/partner’s or children's statements. These public statements never include dollar values, but do include:
- All sources of income exceeding $5,000 for the year;
- All assets and liabilities valued at $5,000 or more (with some exceptions). This includes ownership interest in a business and any contracts with the P.E.I. government;
- Details of any board or volunteer positions you hold
Section 26(4) of the Act requires that other information must be excluded from the public statement. Public disclosures for current elected members are posted on the Legislative Assembly's website and are available to the public.
Standards of behaviour
Under the Conflict of Interest Act, members are expected to perform their duties of office and arrange their private affairs in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity of each member, maintains the Legislative Assembly’s dignity and justifies the respect in which society holds the Assembly and its members.
Specifically, a member must never use their office to influence or to seek to influence a decision to be made by another person so as to further the member’s private interest or improperly to further another person’s private interests. And a member must never use information that is obtained in his or her capacity as an MLA and that is not available to the public to further or seek to further the member’s private interests or improperly to further or seek to further another person’s private interests.
Members are expected to act with integrity and impartiality that will bear the closest scrutiny.
How might an MLA avoid a conflict of interest?
The Commissioner provides expert advice about how best to arrange personal affairs so that members and their families are not placed in a compromising position. The Commissioner is available to offer informal advice or an official opinion, should a member have a question or a concern.
Gifts and personal benefits
Members are prohibited from accepting gifts and/or personal benefits offered to them in their official capacity, except in limited circumstances:
- the gift or benefit is received as an incident of the customs, protocols or social obligations that normally accompany the member’s responsibilities of office;
- if the Commissioner is of the opinion it is unlikely that receipt of the gift or benefit gives rise to a reasonable presumption that it was given in order to influence the MLA in the performance of his or her duties.
If a gift is received in either of these circumstances and the value of the gift exceeds $200, or if the total value of gifts received from one source in any 12 month period exceeds $200 in value, they must be disclosed to the Commissioner, who must then include them in the Member’s public disclosure statement.
Sample form: Statement of Gifts and Personal Benefits (PDF)
for six months after leaving a Cabinet appointment there are restrictions placed on a member to prevent a conflict of interest. Unless they are accepting a contract or benefit that relates to further service of the Crown, no former Minister can:
- accept a contract or benefit approved by Cabinet or a government department
- represent themselves or another person to government in regards to any contract or benefit
- accept a contract or benefit from anyone who received same from the former Minister's department.
The Conflict of Interest Act is required reading for all prospective and current members as it contains further rules and values that must be adhered to by all members.