Code of Ethics

The goal of this Code of Ethics is to promote and require respectful conduct by and among members of and persons (“Staff”) employed by of the Green Party Political Association of British Columbia (GPPABC):

  • while engaged in the business or affairs of the GPPABC or any constituted body of the GPPABC (together, the “GPBC”); or
  • otherwise acting in any manner associated with the GPBC.

This Conduct of Representatives of the GPBC is also subject to the Code of Representative Conduct

1. GENERAL CONDUCT

To promote and require respectful conduct by and among members of the GPPABC:

  • Members and Staff are accountable to the GPPABC through its Constitution, By-laws, Rules, policies, procedures, codes, and authorised structures.
  • As Members and Staff of the GPPABC, we must strive to demonstrate conduct that is a credit to the GPPABC and/or our position, including behaving publicly in a manner consistent with GPPABC purposes, principles and policies.

The GPPABC and its members subscribe to the following ethical principles and agree to abide by them in their individual and collective actions with one another and the public in general when acting on behalf of theGPBC or otherwise acting in any manner associated with the GPBC.

1. ACT AT ALL TIMES HONESTLY, IN GOOD FAITH AND IN A MANNER WHICH WILL ENHANCE THE IMAGE OF AND BE IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE GPPABC

  • Always be truthful, treat others fairly, and take or use only what is legitimately yours.  Honesty is essential to the development and maintenance of trust, respect and, therefore, our sustainable community.
  • Do not publicly misrepresent the stated purposes, values or policies of the GPPABC.
  • When necessary, understand and respond to the authorised structures (elected bodies, committees, etc) and operational procedures of the GPPABC, including responding to or communicating with theGPPABC in a timely manner when contacted or notified.

2. WHEN REPRESENTING YOUR ORGANIZATION, WORKON ITS BEHALF, NOT FOR YOURSELF OR A FEW INDIVIDUALS

  • Members and Staff must adhere to the principles, policies and general agreements of the GPPABC when representing the GPPABC or working on behalf of the GPPABC.
  • Members and Staff must use the resources of the GPPABC for the maximum benefit of the GPPABC rather than to further the interests or agenda of a select few.  This relates in particular to those members in charge of allocating funds.

3. AVOID AND DECLARE CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

  • Individuals working on behalf of the GPPABC are in positions of trust.  They must not violate that trust by using it for personal gain. Fair and responsible governance of an organization is jeopardized in situations where a conflict of interest influences decision-making.
  • If there is a direct, actual, indirect or perceived conflict of interest, the person must avoid the position or the issue or declare his/her interest in full and let all others involved decide whether the member should stand down, leave a meeting, not vote, etc.

4. CREATE MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL PARTNERSHIPS AND WORK COLLABORATIVELY WITH ONE ANOTHER

  • Partnerships, when properly structured, can lead to a synergy that makes the partnership far more effective than the individuals partners would create working alone.
  • Some members and potential partners may be unaware of the benefits of working together toward a mutual goal, this may require a commitment to personal growth and patience, including:
    • resistance to using majority votes to overpower opposing ideas/members
    • full, open and accurate disclosure of relevant information, including being transparent and fiscally responsible to our partners and funders
    • always respecting others and considering and incorporating where reasonable, the suggestions of others
    • looking to the future and adopting a problem-solving attitude, including letting go of past real or perceived injustices
    • promoting win-win solutions; there may be a solution that is better for both parties than either had imagined.

5. HONOUR ALL COMMITMENTS

  • Members and Staff should only make promises or create expectations that they are prepared to fulfil.  Expectations should be clarified at the outset, and if honouring a commitment becomes impossible, the parties must discuss and re-negotiate the commitment.
  • For a member or staff person to neither meet his or her responsibilities nor to re-negotiate the agreement would be unethical.

6. ALWAYS BE LOYAL TO THOSE NOT PRESENT

  • Members and Staff should do their best to make decisions only when all interested parties are present, avoid making assumptions and talking about others (issues between individuals should be discussed directly by those individuals).
  • Keep confidential information confidential (“in-camera” meetings, for this reason, are exempt from the point above).

7. BEHAVE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PUBLIC INTEREST AND A HIGH STANDARD OF BEHAVIOUR

  • Our standard of behaviour is relevant because of the high profile the GPPABC now has in the community.  Acts against the public interest and that of the GPPABC include, but are not limited to those that:
    • could result in civil or criminal action against yourself or the GPPABC, including defamation, harassment [1], discrimination[2], assault or the threat of any of these.
    • encourage any member of the public to file complaints or allegations against you or the GPPABC.
    • cause harm to any person, place or thing such as physical, mental or social abuse.

8. COMMUNICATE RESPONSIBLY, COLLABORATIVELY, OPENLY AND WITHOUT DELAY

  • Take all reasonable steps to ensure that groups and individuals in the GPPABC communicate openly and fairly, information such as policies, guidelines, responsibilities and opportunities for involvement. For example, a committee Chair must make every reasonable effort to include all committee members in all decisions, correspondence and meetings, including notice of a committee meeting.
  • Decisions made that effect or influence a member, committee or part of the organisation in a significant way, must be communicated without delay to that member, committee or part of theorganisation, whether it be for endorsement or simply for the purpose of notice.
  • In the case of a decision or endorsement needed in a very timely way and requiring input, members must do their best to communicate with as many people involved as possible to come to a fair and reasonable conclusion given the circumstances.
  • Information considered, however, for whatever reason, to be very sensitive or confidential should not be distributed or communicated without clear approval from the parties or committee involved.  It is wise to pay particular attention to this issue when communicating by e-mail.
  • E-mail- Communication by e-mail is subject to all of the preceding parts of the Code of Conduct, and as well, since e-mail often requires interpretation by the reader of the tone and meaning of a message, to avoid misinterpretation, it is suggested that members:
    • be as clear and concise as possible
    • ensure your name and e-mail address and all others to whom the message is sent are clearly visible to the reader(s).
    • send the message to only the appropriate people
    • send no superfluous or ill-thought-out material i.e. no “spam,” no irrelevant information, and no messages which are harmful, dishonest or use language that demeans others
    • consider the kind of role model they are by sending a certain message
    • check with the “poster” directly (by phone or in person) to clarify the meaning if you are upset or offended by an e-mail.

2. GPBC COMPLAINTS and DISPOSITION

Members and Staff should be held accountable for the ethical principles to which they subscribe upon their association with the GPPABC.

The GPPABC is an organization governed by its own by-laws, rules, policies, and codes, managed for the most part by volunteers, and paid for by its members and supporters.  Therefore, we have a limited capacity to process and administer complaints.  Significant or consistent violations, however, are not acceptable and will be dealt with using the following guidelines.

A fundamental part of being “Green” is practicing peaceful, respectful and cooperative solutions to problems.  Ideally, regional groups and Constituency Associations should attempt to carry out their own informal and formal mediation and resolution processes (based on these guidelines) to deal with violations of this Code of Ethics.  When an issue becomes significant enough, however, to have an impact on the operation or reputation of the GPPABC, the Provincial Council reserves the right to intervene and appoint the provincial Ombudspersons to deal with the matter.

The GPPABC has two Ombudspersons (one male and one female) who are appointed by Provincial Council to deal objectively with complaints arising from the preceding Code of Ethics.  In all cases the Ombudspersons will act in the best interests of the GPPABC as a whole.

Who can complain?

Since the GPPABC is a registered political party, making us publicly accountable, we accept complaints from:

  • members of the public concerning representatives and spokespersons of the GPPABC (including Council members, paid employees, candidates for public office, GPPABC members in public office, and executive members of Regional or Constituency Associations)
  • a member in good standing of the GPPABC concerning another member in good standing of the GPPABC.

Kinds of complaints

The GPPABC can only react to complaints that relate to a Member or Staff of the GPPABC.  If you are sure that a member or authorised representative has significantly or consistently violated the GPPABC Code of Ethics, you may have reason to file a complaint.  For example, you may have reason to file a complaint if a member or representative:

  • acts dishonestly;
  • acts consistently only on behalf of a few individuals;
  • rarely fulfills his/her commitments;
  • is definitely in a conflict of interest situation;
  • works often in an uncollaborative manner;
  • is rarely loyal to those not present;
  • acts against the public interest or the interest of the GPPABC;
  • consistently communicates irresponsibly;
  • refuses to deal with your complaint.

If a complaint is warranted

If you believe that a GPPABC member or representative has significantly or consistently violated the Code of Ethics, you are expected first to take a collaborative course of action that is, itself, in harmony with the ethical principles.  This should include items 1-3 below and possibly items 4 and 5:

  1. Be very sure of the facts of the matter.
  2. Seek clarification of the nature of the principles that were apparently violated and any mitigating circumstances.
  3. Obtain the counsel of others as to the significance of the apparent violation and the best way to deal with the situation.
  4. Discuss the situation with the apparent violator, either with or without mediation, in an effort to reach agreement on how such situations would best be handled.
  5. Attempt to resolve the matter at the local level; through the Constituency Association or Regional group.

If, after pursuing the steps above in a reasonable manner, you believe a GPPABC member or representative has so significantly or consistently violated the ethical principles that further action is needed, you may make your assertions known via online submission or in writing to one or both of the Ombudspersons via fax (888-473-3686) or e-mail to ombuds@greenparty.bc.ca.  Please be sure to specify which ombudsperson you want to deal with the issue.

The Ombudspersons will then deal with the complaint as per the following process.

In the case where the complaint is against an Ombudsperson, fax, mail, or email the form to Chair of the Provincial Council, GPPABC. The Provincial Council will then appoint an individual or sub-committee to deal with the complaint as per the following process.

The complaints process

The Ombudspersons will do one or several of the following in order.

  1. Review your complaint to ensure that the GPPABC is the appropriate place for your complaint;
  2. Confirm that you (the complainant) have first followed steps 1-5 above;
  3. Contact the member or representative (respondent), disclose all information you provided to us regarding your complaint and ask for an explanation;
  4. If necessary, seek further information from you (the complainant), the respondent or any witnesses, or find any other necessary documentation.

If steps 1 and 2 above are affirmative and the complainant still wishes to proceed, the Ombudsman/men will then convene a small group to look into the written assertions.  This group will be composed either of the two Ombudsmen exclusively or a small group of GPPABC members respected for their impartiality and skill in working collaboratively and including at least one of the Ombudspersons.

The small group will work with the complainant, the respondent, and any others who might be helpful.  In the case of an alleged violation that could have serious consequences, both the complainant and respondent will be given an opportunity to fully present their case.  If either party, given reasonable notice, refuses to co-operate with the process at this stage, that party is deemed to allow a decision to be made with only the information and evidence at hand.

In the case of a very acute and public matter threatening the operation and/or reputation of the GPPABC, the Ombudsman/men may request that the respondent be suspended (see Appendix) from his/her activities within the GPPABC until the complaint can be properly resolved.  If the complaint involves an issue or incident under another type of investigation i.e. criminal, civil or professional body, the GPPABC Ombudsman may elect to take no further action until after the outcome of that process is complete, at which time the Ombudsman/men or Provincial Council may decide to take action based on those findings.

The group will then make a decision about your complaint and communicate this, as a report with reasons, to the Provincial Council, in camera, at the next meeting.  For matters of a more serious nature, for example those listed under (3 and 4) below, Provincial Council will be asked to approve the decision (or revise it) and the decision will then be communicated to all involved.

Examples of possible decisions include:

  1. in the case where no significant and/or consistent violation of ethical principles occurred, the assertions were in error either in fact or significance, or the complaint was deemed to be frivolous or malicious - take no more further action and communicate the decision to the parties;
  2. in the case where a significant and/or consistent violation was committed, but occurred more out of ignorance than disregard for the GPPABC ethical principles - implement an appropriate learning process, including any resolution agreed upon by the parties, after which the matter will be closed;
  3. in cases where a significant and/or consistent violation occurred out of disregard for the ethical principles (one or more of the following)
    1. criticize the conduct of the member or representative in a letter;
    2. recommend that the GPPABC not support or withdraw support for this person as a representative or spokesperson in the future;
    3. require the member or representative to issue a written private or public apology;
    4. suspend or revoke the authority of a representative to speak on behalf of the GPPABC;
    5. require the member or representative to cease or suspend any activities within the GPPABC;
    6. suspend the membership of a member of the GPPABC;
    7. as a “last resort”revoke the membership of a member of the GPPABC.

(This decision may only be implemented after agreement of a majority of members of the Provincial Council of the GPPABC.)

There is no set time for a complaint to be handled.  Whether a complaint is simple or complex, the Ombudspersons will do their utmost to ensure that complaints are handled fairly and confidentially.

Confidentiality

It is expected that the Ombudspersons, members of Provincial Council and any others involved in a complaint act with discretion and make every reasonable effort to protect the privacy of both the complainant and respondent.  For this reason, Provincial Council meetings dealing with these matters are held “in camera” and only the final resolution by Council on the matter is minuted (if a resolution is necessary).  Similarly, the reports of the Ombudspersons will remain confidential and will be kept on file at the registered office of the GPPABC.

Hearing and Review

Only when you believe that the decision in your case was incorrect because the foregoing procedures were clearly not properly followed, may you seek a hearing and review of the decision, in writing, to the Provincial Council of the GPPABC.

Any person directly affected by a decision of the Executive Committee shall have 30 days from receiving notice of such decision to seek a hearing and review from the Provincial Council.

APPENDIX

Suspension = a particular duty or right in question (i.e. an authority, activity, GPPABC membership) is null and void for a limited period of time (usually until the matter is resloved).

For example,
  • A GPPABC member can be suspended from certain activities within the GPPABC
  • A GPPABC member can have one’s membership suspended
  • A GPPABC elected official, endorsed candidate or authorised spokesperson can be suspended
    • from their authority to speak on behalf of the GPPABC
    • from any particular activities within the GPPABC

Link to GPBC Complaints Form Ombudsperson.

 

REFERENCES

A Discussion Paper on Ethics for the BC Watershed Stewardship Alliance, Vancouver, B.C. (April 2000).

Administrative Law; Cases, Text and Materials(3rd Ed), J. M. Evans et al., Emond Montgomery Publications Limited, Toronto, Canada (1989).

Complaints Form and procedures, The Law Society of British Columbia (2001).

Court Mediation Program – forms, Provincial Court of B.C. (Small Claims Court), 2000.

GPPABC Policy & Protocol for Electronic Communications(1999).

Misconduct Policy for the GPPABC (a draft – June 3, 1997).

Notice of Claim, Small Claims Court – Form 1, Provincial Court OF B.C., 2000.

Proposed Guidelines for Electronic Communication, Jack Ross (1997).

Proposed Protocol for GPPABC Representatives (2001).

Reply, Small Claims Court – Form 2 – Provincial Court of B.C., 2000.


 


[1]Defined as any unsolicited or undesired conduct, whether verbal, physical, or by innuendo, which creates an intimidating, hostile, or otherwise offensive environment.

[2]On the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, ancestry, marital status, family status, or sexual orientation.

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