A controversial new Library and Archives Canada code of conduct warns its employees that “teaching, speaking at conferences, and other personal engagements” is considered “high risk to LAC and to the employee with regard to conflict of interest, conflict of duties and duty of loyalty.”
In an interview with Postmedia, Loryl MacDonald, president of the Association of Canadian Archivists, calls the code of conduct “chilling.” MacDonald says, “It is very disturbing and disconcerting to have included speaking at conferences and teaching as so-called ‘high risk’ activities.”
The 23-page document, which applies to all LAC full-time and contract employees, volunteers, and students, also identifies social media as a threat:
With the current proliferation of social media, public servants need to pay particular attention to their participation in these forums. For example, in a blog with access limited to certain friends, personal opinions about a new departmental or Government of Canada program intended to be expressed to a limited audience can, through no fault of the public servant, become public and the author identified. The public servant could be subject to disciplinary measures, as the simple act of limiting access to the blog does not negate a public servant’s duty of loyalty to the elected government.
A leaked LAC training presentation features a section on how to report “wrongdoing.” In the Postmedia story, Canadian Association of University Teachers executive director James Turk criticizes the policy and its intent, saying, “It includes both a muzzle and a snitch line.”