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Employee Guidelines for Involvement in Political Activity

During the municipal, federal and territorial election periods, there will be considerable public discussion of candidates, the airing of political positions and debate about the potential results.  The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) encourages its employees to become involved in the electoral processes that shape and guide the creation and administration of our laws and our social, educational, and other systems.

Municipal, federal and territorial election periods are exciting and interesting.  To ensure that the public service is objective, and is seen as objective, throughout the campaign period it is essential that all employees are careful in their activities.

Election Dates

The dates of the 2023 Territorial Election are scheduled as follows:

  • Monday, October 16, 2023 – Friday, October 20, 2023 – Writs Issued and Nomination Period for 2023 Territorial Election
  • Tuesday November 14, 2023 – Election Day for 2023 Territorial Election

For more information about the Key Dates and Deadlines for the 2023 Territorial Election, please refer to Elections NWT.

Want To Participate?

Within the constraints established in the Public Service Act and the Code of Conduct, public servants are free to participate in political activities, including belonging to a political party, attending political meetings, and contributing money to a political party or candidate.

When engaging in political activities that may conflict with employment duties or compromise the interests of the GNWT, whether it is real or perceived, public servants must submit a written disclosure to their Deputy Head.

For more information, please refer to the Code of Conduct section on Political Activity.

Are You Restricted?

If you fall into the category of a “restricted employee”, additional restrictions on political activity apply.

Want To Run In A Federal Or Territorial Election?

If you wish to register as a candidate in a federal or territorial election:

  • You must take a leave of absence without pay or resign from your position within the public service to ensure there is no conflict of interest. 
  • Your request will be submitted to the Deputy Head of your department or agency for approval.
  • You should not submit your nomination papers until the leave has been approved.
  • Public notice that you were granted a leave of absence without pay to run in an election is published in the Northwest Territories Gazette and in NWT newspapers.
  • Employees who seek election are encouraged to submit their leave requests as early as possible.  You should not submit your nomination papers until the leave has been approved.
  • If you are the successful candidate, you must resign immediately from your position with the Public Service. If you are not successful, you are entitled to return to the same or similar employment the day after Polling Day (this may be subject to a recount).

Want To Work the Election? (Non-Political Activities)

Employees may be deputy returning officers or polling clerks, subject to approval from their deputy head to engage in this form of outside employment, service, or volunteer activity.  Leave approval (e.g., vacation or lieu time) is based upon operational requirements.

Check the Rules

Discussion of the responsibilities and limitations placed on public servants during an election campaign can be found in the Code of Conduct section on Political Activity. You are encouraged to look at this section to refresh your memory.

Key highlights:

  • Election-related activities cannot occur on government premises (e.g. meetings, distribution of materials, etc.) or with the use of GNWT equipment or tools (such as phones, copiers, etc.).
  • Employees should not display or distribute campaign literature or other promotional material in any office or premises belonging to or in the possession of the GNWT, except leased residential premises.  Employees can wear campaign buttons on the outerwear worn to and from work, but buttons should not be worn in the workplace.
  • Government e-mail is not to be used to transmit any messages related to political campaigns or activities.  If you receive messages from candidates or others, delete them from the system.  If desired, ask the sender to communicate with you using your personal e-mail.

Allegations of improper political activities

Anyone may make an allegation of improper political activity against an employee. The accused employee’s Deputy Head, in consultation with the Deputy Minister of Finance, may investigate any allegation that an employee may have engaged in an improper political activity. If the investigation establishes that the employee’s activity contravenes any section of the Code, the employee may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

Additional Resources

Want to run in a municipal election?

Summary of Restrictions

Code of Conduct

Internet Use Policy

E-mail Use Policy