Open Municipal Government Toolkit – Conflict of Interest
Council members cannot use confidential information for personal gain, or for the gain of relatives or any person or corporation. You are required to declare a conflict of interest if Council is considering a matter where you, or a person closely connected to you, has an interest. You must remove yourself from the decision making on any matter where you, or a person close to you, has an interest and you cannot influence decision making.
A conflict of interest occurs when private interests and the public interest are either in actual conflict or may appear to be in conflict. An important concept for conflict of interest is that even the appearance of a conflict should be avoided. As a public representative, members of Council must put the best interests of the Municipality first, and should recuse themselves from any issue where the public interest may conflict with their own private interests.
In general, Council members take responsibility themselves for declaring and acting upon conflicts of interest or apparent conflicts of interest through the proper declaration and withdrawing from the discussion or decision. However, each Council member is accountable for their decisions to the public. It is appropriate for Councillors to seek out advice if desired, but the public interest always has to come first in the role of Councillor.
The Government of Prince Edward Island has provided a sample conflict of interest bylaw.