Mandate of the investigation
During the course of another investigation conducted by the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, the investigators obtained information indicating that a wrongdoing may have been committed by the then Regional Vice-Chairperson of the Ontario/Nunavut region of the Parole Board of Canada (Parole Board), Mr. Frederick Tufnell. A Vice-Chairperson of a regional division is responsible to the Chairperson for the professional conduct, training, and quality of decision-making of Board members assigned to that division.
On June 26, 2013, after a detailed analysis of the information obtained, Mr. Joe Friday, Deputy Commissioner, initiated an investigation to determine whether Mr. Tufnell committed wrongdoing by:
- Contravening the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (the CCRA) and committing a serious breach of the Parole Board’s Code of Professional Conduct by interfering in a Parole Board decision, despite the appearance of a conflict of interest and bias; and
- Committing an act that created a substantial and specific danger to the life, health or safety of persons and committing a serious breach of the Parole Board’s Code of Professional Conduct as it related to his conduct towards female employees at the Parole Board.
The investigation found that:
Mr. Tufnell contravened subsection 155(2) of the CCRA, which states that “A member of the Board may not participate in a review of a case in circumstances where a reasonable apprehension of bias may result from the participation of that member”, by:
- Placing himself in a conflict of interest situation when he requested that a second review be conducted and directed that a new decision be taken in a particular file, despite the fact that one had already been rendered during the course of an independent decision-making process. Mr. Tufnell had previously advised management of the Parole Board that he could not “vote” on this particular file, for reason of bias. While Mr. Tufnell may not have voted on it, his involvement in the file nevertheless resulted in a breach of subsection 155(2) of the CCRA, given the apprehension of bias that would likely result from it.
Mr. Tufnell seriously breached the Parole Board’s Code of Professional Conduct by:
- Demonstrating inappropriate behaviour and actions towards female employees in the workplace over an extended period of time;
- Criticizing Parole Board members to outside parties; and
- Making unauthorized disclosures of information to individuals who were not authorized to receive it.
The information gathered during this investigation did not substantiate the following allegation:
That Mr. Tufnell’s actions created a substantial and specific danger to the life, health or safety of persons.
- That the Chairperson consider whether discipline would be appropriate, in light of Mr. Tufnell’s conduct and the applicable provisions of the CCRA.
- That the Chairperson reassess Mr. Tufnell’s ability to hold a position of trust within the public service by conducting a review of his reliability status, in light of his unauthorized disclosures of information.
- That the Chairperson implement a structured process to assess the past workplace behavior of prospective Board Members, prior to declaring them qualified to hold such a position.
- That the Parole Board establish a mechanism to ensure that its Code of Professional Conduct has been provided to and discussed with all new Board Members, and that all Board Members are reminded of their obligations under this code on a regular basis
The full Case Report can be viewed online at www.psic-ispc.gc.ca
For more information, contact:
Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner