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Political Science
POLS 3440
Geoff Stevens

Unit 2 Ethics and Conflict of Interest Michael McDonald Definition  Conflict of interest is situation in which a public official, employee, or a professional, has a private or personal interest sufficient to appear to influence the objective exercise of their official duties  Three key elements to definition: o Private or personal interest which is not a problem unless it comes into nd conflict with the 2 feature o Official duty which is supposed to trump private or personal interests o Conflicts of interest interfere with professional responsibilities in a specific way by interfering with objective professional judgment  Important to avoid apparent and potential as well as actual conflicts of interests o Apparent conflict of interests are ones that a reasonable person would think that the professional’s judgment is likely to be compromised o Potential conflict of interest involves a situation that may develop into an actual conflict of interest Leading Examples  Kernaghan and Langford list seven categories of types of typical conflicts of interest: o Self-dealing: e.g. working for govn't and using official position to secure a contract for a private consulting company you own o Accepting benefits: e.g. bribery; substantial gifts o Influence peddling: professional solicits benefits in exchange for using their influence to unfairly advance interests of particular party o Using your employer’s property for private advantage o Using confidential information o Outside employment or moonlighting: e.g. setting up a business on the side that is in direct competition with your employer  In combination with influence peddling, it might be that a professional employed in the public service sells private consulting services to an individual with the assurance they will secure benefits from govn't o Post-employment: e.g. a person who resigns from public or private employment and goes into business in the same area Some Tests  Key to knowing if you are in a conflict of interests is to determine whether the situation you are in is likely to interfere with or appear to interfere with the independent judgment you are supposed to show as a professional in performing your official duties  Trust is at the ethical heart of the issue o COI involve abuse of the trust people have in professionals  True test: would relevant others trust my judgment if they knew I was in this situation  Second way to avoid COI is to absent oneself from decision making or advice giving if you have a private interest Dividing the Spoils Mulroney  Mulroney gathered a group of influential Conservatives together the night before gaining office to discuss patronage  PMs have always understood that, properly applied, patronage helps to build and maintain broadly based national parties o Provided a mirror the party in power could hold up for the whole country beckoning people to see some of their own reflected in it and be reassured or dismayed about the accuracy of the party’s claim to represent the whole of Canada  In recent years traditional reflections—partisan, religious, linguistic and regional interests—have had to incorporate women, native peoples, young and old Canadians and various multicultural groups  Liberals never underestimated importance of patronage and Mulroney intended to follow suit in an attempt to widen the Conservatives’ political appeal  Knew that his party wouldn’t tolerate a repeat of Clark’s patronage performance: o Clark didn’t give his party’s supporters their share of the spoils as he focused on other priorities o Belief was the Clark let the party down because he did not understand that power meant rewarding friends and discomforting foes  Mulroney had observed how the Liberals used patronage. How the allure of power and anticipation of reward helped to attract the best and the brightest of federalist
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