Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Guidelines to be created to ensure neutrality of civil servants

  • Print

Manitoba’s Ombudsman said in a report today the NDP skirted the neutrality of civil servants in an April 2012 event to condemn federal changes to immigration.

In a release, Acting Ombudsman Mel Holley said he concluded that there was no personal or administrative misconduct that would amount to partisan action by the civil service, but the distribution of an email invitation gave rise to the perception of partisanship.

"This complaint brought the matter of civil service neutrality to the forefront," Holley said. "It also touched upon the relationship between elected officials and civil servants."

The email in question was sent by Ben Rempel, assistant deputy minister of immigration, to local immigration workers to attend the legislative building April 19, 2012 to listen to a debate on the immigration changes and the province’s position on those changes.

The email read:

Dear colleagues,

Tomorrow, Thursday, April 19, 2012, Honourable Christine Melnick, minister of immigration and multiculturalism, will table a resolution that the legislative assembly of Manitoba call on the Government of Canada to immediately reverse its decision to cancel the settlement annex of the Canada-Manitoba Immigration Agreement with the provincial government in order to maintain the successful Manitoba immigration model. The Manitoba government resolution is attached.

We would like to invite you to be at the Manitoba Legislative Building, 450 Broadway, at 2:00 p.m., tomorrow, Thursday, April 19, 2012, to witness this very important event.

Sincerely,
Ben Rempel
assistant deputy minister
Manitoba Immigration and Multiculturalism

 

At the time the Opposition Progressive Conservatives said the memo was evidence the NDP used a civil servant to stage a political event.

Holley said the email raised a matter of public importance.

"Ensuring that civil servants remain neutral in carrying out their responsibilities is of great importance for the effective operation of government," he said. "Any real or perceived erosion of this impartiality can undermine public confidence in the administrative actions and advice of civil servants."

Holley said his office asked government to consider whether there might be any appropriate role for elected officials in working with civil servants to address similar situations where administrative actions could give rise to the perception of partisanship.

He said in response, the government said that while the primary responsibility to maintain political neutrality rests with civil servants, there is a role for elected officials and political staff to be mindful of the neutrality required of civil servants.

Holley said the clerk of Executive Council and the Civil Service Commissioner have agreed to work together to develop a set of guidelines for consideration by elected officials and political staff to assist them when developing directions or instructions to civil servants that avoid the potential for situations where administrative actions could result in the perception of partisanship.

The Civil Service Commission has also agreed to create an implementation plan in consultation with each department to ensure that all civil service employees attend a "Working in Government: Values and Ethics in the Manitoba Civil Service" workshop. This workshop complements information in the Manitoba government's Values and Ethics Guide and an online employee orientation.

To read the Ombudsman’s full report, go to http://www.ombudsman.mb.ca.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

City Beautiful trailer: How architecture shaped Winnipeg's DNA

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Down the Hatch- A pelican swallows a fresh fish that it caught on the Red River near Lockport, Manitoba. Wednesday morning- May 01, 2013   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Geese take cover in long grass in the Tuxedo Business Park near Route 90 Wednesday- Day 28– June 27, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Premier Greg Selinger resign?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google