Employees of federal departments are being reminded in “intimidating” internal memos not to take activism too far during the election campaign.
The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada has warned that employees in several departments have been pressured on political activity.
The union claims that several departments, including Justice, Shared Services and National Defence have been on the receiving end of the internal memos.
“It suggests that if you participate, that if you get politically active, that that’s going to have an impact on your job, that you might be terminated or otherwise disciplined,” president of the PIPSC Debi Daviau told Metro News.
Daviau claims the “threat” and “intimidating tone” of the memos could be enough “to make them [employees] not want to take a chance” on speaking out.
“The memos imply that they don’t have the right to participate like any other Canadian, and that’s not true,” she told Metro News.
The memo sent to Justice employees specifically reminds employees about their social media obligations, in relation to the department’s values and ethics code.
Metro News reports it says employees are expected to “uphold the public service duty of loyalty, and refrain from public criticism of the Government of Canada.”
Public servants are restricted somewhat by existing law, with no right to conduct political activity on the job or identify as public sector employees while working on a campaign or communicating opinions about their job.
The unearthed Justice memo adds that “even if you do not identify yourself as a public servant, there are ways for you to be identified,” and “a disclaimer does not absolve you of your public servant responsibilities”.