Tips and tricks for political participation :: Association of Justice Counsel News
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June 5th, 2018
June 5th, 2018

Tips and tricks for political participation

The hallmarks of a healthy democracy is the right and ability of citizens to participate freely in the election process. As many provincial and municipal elections approach, we want to make sure AJC members know how they can participate in the political process.

The Courts have recently helped us clarify this issue in both the Taman v. Canada (Attorney general) and Mohr v. Treasury Board (Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions) cases the AJC fought and won.

Federal public service workers in Canada did not always enjoy the right to engage in political activity. In fact, the former Public Service Employment Act prohibited almost all political activities by public service workers. It was only in 1991, following a seven year legal process that the Supreme Court of Canada in Osborne v. Canada (Treasury Board) struck down restrictions on public servants' political activities resulting in important revisions to the Public Service Employment Act.

Make use of your political rights

As AJC members, you can exercise your democratic political rights by:

- Signing a candidate's nomination papers.
- Placing an election sign on your property.
- Working as a canvasser for a political party or candidate.
- Working in a campaign office.
- Participating in the formation of party or candidate policies.
- Taking part in election-day activities on behalf of a party or candidate.
- Attending peaceful demonstrations on political topics.
- Soliciting funds from the public for political campaigns and parties.
- Attending a political convention as a delegate.
- Expressing support for a party or candidate on a social media platform

Limits to your political rights

As AJC members are subject to the Public Service Employment Act - some restrictions continue to apply. None of the activities listed above should be carried out during your working hours.  

There are also separate and special rules that apply if you wish to be a candidate in a federal, territorial, municipal or provincial election or wish to campaign in support of a candidate. When determining how you want to exercise your democratic rights, follow some guiding principles:

- Don't conduct any political activity on the job.
- Don't identify yourself as a federal public servant when working on a campaign, e.g. canvassing, making phone calls, etc.
- Don't identify yourself as a federal public servant when communicating opinions about election issues, political parties and politicians through blogs, Facebook, Twitter or other social media.
- Don't wear any government identification, at public meetings such as candidates' meetings.

If you are disciplined for political activities

If you are disciplined in any way for participation in a political activity, this can be grieved. If you are disciplined, please fill out an incident form and send it to . Any attempts by management to restrict your political rights should also be brought to the attention of your regional GC representative.

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