II Governor in council appointments

Heads of agencies play an important role in the appointment of Governor in Council appointees to their organization. This section describes the roles of heads of agencies and the other organizations involved in these appointments.

1. Overview

Governor in Council appointments are those made by the Governor General on the advice of the Queen’s Privy Council of Canada represented by Cabinet.

The Governor in Council population consists of more than 3,500 appointees. There are approximately 1,000 federally appointed judges, some 100 heads of mission, including Ambassadors and High Commissioners, as well as some 500 full-time and 1,900 part-time appointees in a wide array of agencies, boards, commissions, Crown corporations and government departments. These appointees include Deputy Ministers, heads of agencies and members, CEOs of Crown corporations and directors, and returning officers. Their responsibilities are diverse, ranging from making quasi-judicial decisions and socio-economic development recommendations to the management of large, diversified corporations.

Recommendations for appointments originate from many sources, including the political, commercial and academic communities, senior public servants, and interest groups. In addition, for most full-time fixed term appointments, qualified candidates are actively sought through publicized notices of vacancy that appear in the Canada Gazette.

The agency head, the Minister, the portfolio department, the Office of the Director of Appointments in the Prime Minister’s Office, the Management Priorities and Senior Personnel Secretariat in the Privy Council Office, the Office of the Ethics Counsellor, and the Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council (Orders in Council), have a role in Governor in Council appointments.

2. The Agency Head

The agency head (or the Chair of the Board of Directors in Crown corporations) will consult with the responsible Minister on the appointment needs of the organization and will provide advice to the Minister with respect to the skill sets desired in new members and make recommendations for reappointment of members whose terms are coming to an end, as well as on the need to fill existing or upcoming vacancies.

Since the agency head is responsible for the conduct of the work and the effective functioning of the organization, the agency head will keep the responsible Minister informed of changes in the membership as a result of resignations, etc. In addition, the agency head will advise the responsible Minister of any situation involving Governor in Council appointees in the organization that requires the Minister’s attention. The agency head is also responsible for reviewing the performance of appointees within the organization.

3. The Minister

Governor in Council appointments are normally made on the recommendation of the responsible Minister, in accordance with the provisions of the relevant statute. The Minister works with the Office of the Director of Appointments in the Prime Minister’s Office, in developing recommendations for Governor in Council appointments. The Minister will consult with the Director of Appointments as to the positions to be filled and the requirements for these positions.

In making recommendations for appointment, Ministers take into consideration the need to ensure that representational requirements are met in terms of regional, linguistic, ethnic, gender and other objectives.

4. The Portfolio Department

The portfolio department supplies advice to the responsible Minister’s office to ensure that the legal requirements of a recommended appointment are met. Designated departmental officials support the Minister in making appointment recommendations by preparing the necessary documentation to be submitted to the Governor in Council. This documentation is composed of a submission which includes a recommendation signed by the responsible Minister, a draft Order in Council for the appointment, as well as a short biographical note on the appointee. The department may also be asked to provide assistance in finalizing notices of vacancy, job descriptions and selection criteria when a position is to be advertised in the Canada Gazette.

The portfolio department will work closely with the Management Priorities and Senior Personnel Secretariat in the Privy Council Office on a number of appointment related issues, including the drafting of submissions for the Minister’s signature.

5. The Director of Appointments, Prime Minister’s Office

The Director provides political advice to the Prime Minister on appointments. Ministers consult with the Office of the Director when developing their recommendations on Governor in Council appointments.

The Office of the Director of Appointments, in the Prime Minister’s Office works closely with Ministers and heads of agencies, among others, to ensure that appointments take into account Canada’s diversity and meet the needs of the organization to which they are being made.

6. The Management Priorities and Senior Personnel Secretariat

The Management Priorities and Senior Personnel Secretariat in the Privy Council Office provides operational advice to the Prime Minister, through the Clerk of the Privy Council, on Governor in Council appointments.

The Secretariat is responsible for meeting the legal and administrative imperatives of the appointment process. Under the direction of the Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, the Secretariat provides advice and support on the selection, appointment, career planning, compensation, performance review and termination of Governor in Council appointees. Negotiation of salaries and other terms and conditions of employment is conducted by the Secretariat.

The Secretariat also provides advice to heads of agencies and departmental officials with respect to the qualifications required for a specific position, salary and other terms and conditions of employment, conflict of interest issues of a general nature, and political activities of Governor in Council appointees.

The Minister’s office and the Management Priorities and Senior Personnel Secretariat should be advised of any situation or issue involving Governor in Council appointees requiring discussion.

7. The Office of the Ethics Counsellor

Governor in Council appointees are required to perform their duties in the public interest. Their impartiality must be beyond reproach. Consequently, the Government has established for public office holders the Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code which explains the steps to be taken to avoid real or apparent conflicts between their private interests and public responsibilities.

The Code sets standards to maintain and enhance public confidence in the integrity of public office holders. It contains measures for compliance while in office and afterward. Specific requirements include the types of assets that public office holders may have and the outside activities in which they may engage.

The Office of the Ethics Counsellor is responsible for administering this program. All full-time appointees are contacted by the Office of the Ethics Counsellor upon appointment to ensure they are in compliance with the Code. In addition, although the provisions of the Code do not apply to part-time appointees, the spirit and principles of the Code do. The Office of the Ethics Counsellor advises part-time appointees of their obligations with respect to conflict of interest. Heads of agencies and other appointees are encouraged to discuss their circumstances in confidence with the Office of the Ethics Counsellor. (More information on these issues is provided in Chapter IX.)

8. The Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council (Orders in Council)

The Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council (Orders in Council) provides secretariat services to the Special Committee of Council and is responsible for the approval of Orders in Council, regulations and other statutory instruments, and for providing advice on the use of Orders in Council and/or Instruments of Advice. With regard to Governor in Council appointments, the Order in Council Division prepares all appointment Orders which are submitted for Cabinet review and approval; transmits appointments to the Governor in Council for final approval; and, finally, prepares and distributes approved Orders (including certificates of appointment) to Ministers, Management Priorities and Senior Personnel Secretariat, the Ethics Counsellor and other appropriate parties. The Order in Council Division also administers the Statutory Instruments Act regarding the registration and publication of regulations and Orders in Council in Part II of the Canada Gazette.

9. Advertisement of Vacancies in the Canada Gazette

It is government practice to advertise most full-time, fixed term positions in the Canada Gazette. The Director of Appointments in the Prime Minister’s Office and the responsible Minister consult as to whether there is a need to advertise in the Canada Gazette to fill a vacancy. Advertisements in newspapers and specialized magazines may also be used, depending on the nature of the job.

When a decision is made to advertise a position or positions, the Management Priorities and Senior Personnel Secretariat prepares and places the notice of vacancy in the Canada Gazette. The preparation of the notice of vacancy, the job description, and the selection criteria are prepared in coordination with the agency, the Director of Appointments, and the responsible Minister.

The notice of vacancy indicates that applications are to be sent to the Office of the Director of Appointments, the Minister’s office, the Management Priorities and Senior Personnel Secretariat, the portfolio department, or the agency, depending on the situation. Applicants’ qualifications and experience are evaluated against the requirements of the position.

10. Parliamentary Review of Governor in Council Appointments

The Standing Orders of the House of Commons provide that Standing Committees of the House of Commons, which have members from all political parties in the House, have the authority to review all non-judicial appointments made by the Government of Canada.

Shortly after an appointment is made, a copy of the appointing Order in Council is tabled in the House of Commons for consideration by one of the Standing Committees of the House. The members of the Standing Committee can then choose whether they will request an appointee to meet with the Committee. Committee review of an appointment gives the Committee an opportunity to become acquainted with the appointee and to ask questions about the appointee’s qualifications related to the duties of the position to which the Government has appointed the person. The Order in Council comes into effect when it is signed. Appointees need not wait until the Order is tabled and reviewed before assuming their duties within the organization to which they have been appointed. Standing Committees do not have the power to veto appointments.

Contact for further information

Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet
Management Priorities and Senior Personnel
Privy Council Office
Telephone: (613) 957-5293