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With the 2021 federal election well underway, we want to ensure that all ACFO-ACAF public service members are aware of their rights and responsibilities when engaging in political activity. Whether you are seeking elected office yourself or want to show your support for a party or candidate, we have the information you will need to do so appropriately.
As a federal public service employee, you have the right, enshrined in the Public Service Employment Act, to engage in political activity at the federal, provincial, territorial or municipal level so long as you maintain the principle of political impartiality in the public service.
In practical terms, engaging political activity is examined on a case-by-case basis. The Public Service Commission (PSC) has many useful resources that can help you determining if your political activity is appropriate, including a list of political activities and a Political Activities Self-Assessment Tool.
If you are considering seeking nomination or being a candidate in a federal, provincial, territorial or municipal election, you must first obtain permission from the PSC and be prepared to take leave without pay if applicable. Information about candidacy activities and the permission process can be found on the PSC website.
You do not need permission from the PSC to engage in “non-candidacy political activities,” defined by the PSEA as “any activity in support of, within or in opposition to a political party or a candidate before or during an election period.” Non-candidacy political activities could include volunteering or fundraising for a candidate or a political party; displaying political materials like pictures, stickers, badges, buttons or signs; or attending events, meetings, conventions, rallies or other political gatherings.
That said, you are personally responsible for ensuring that engaging in these activities does not or is not seen to impair your ability to perform your duties in a politically impartial way. The PSC also has information about non-candidacy political activities available on their website.
If you have any doubts or questions about your political activity during the election period, we strongly encourage you to get in touch with your Designated Political Activities Representative or the PSC directly. There can be repercussions for improper activity, and we want to ensure that you are protected.
ACFO-ACAF is a non-partisan organization, meaning that we do not support or endorse any candidate or party during an election or at any other time. While we don’t endorse parties or candidates, we do work with MPs and other groups or people with partisan affiliations on issues relevant to our members –such as pay equity and tax fairness.
An ACFO-ACAF Labour Relations Advisor can also help answer any further questions you may have, so contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. As your union, our primary concern is ensuring that your rights are protected.