Governor in Council Appointment Process Overview

What is a GIC appointment?
Governor in Council (GIC) appointments are made by the Governor General, on the advice of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada (i.e., the Cabinet). The appointments range from heads of agencies and CEOs of Crown corporations to members of quasi-judicial tribunals. These positions are typically provided for in the enabling legislation of the organization to which they are attached.

How are the appointments made?
Each Minister is responsible for a portfolio of organizations (e.g. the Minister of Canadian Heritage is responsible for the Museum of Nature and the National Arts Centre, among other organizations). Ministers manage all GIC appointments within their portfolios, and appointments to these organizations are made on the recommendation of the responsible Minister to the GIC.

Terms and Conditions of a GIC appointment:
The terms and conditions of each GIC appointment are made through an Order in Council. The Order in Council also sets out whether the appointee holds office on a full or part-time basis; the majority of appointees serve on a part-time basis (e.g., director of a Crown corporation).

As for the specified conditions, the tenure of an appointment can be either “during good behaviour” (may only be removed for cause) or “during pleasure” (may be removed at the discretion of the Governor in Council).

The term of an appointment can be for either a specific or indeterminate period. When a specific period is indicated, the appointment lapses at its expiration, unless there is a legislative provision to the contrary. The appointee may be reappointed to the same position at the discretion of the Governor in Council. In some cases, statutory provisions prohibit or set limits to reappointment to the same position.

Remuneration and terms and conditions for most appointees are fixed by the Governor in Council. Established policies and frameworks help to ensure fairness and equity among appointees.

For more information, consult the Terms and Conditions of Employment for Full-Time Governor in Council Appointees.

Nature and timing of the selection process:
The selection process will vary with each position, depending on the nature of the position in question and the scope of its responsibilities. Rigorous processes are used for key and high profile appointments such as CEO of Crown corporations and heads of agencies, while more streamlined approaches can be used for other appointments, such as part-time positions on boards of directors.

Selection criteria:
As part of a selection processs, selection criteria are developed to reflect the needs of the organisation and the specific qualifications of the ideal candidate. The pool of suitable candidates can be reached through a variety of means (e.g. the GIC Appointments web site, executive firms, newspapers and professional journals). Interested candidates are assessed based on the requirements of the position.

Management of the selection process:
The selection process for key appointments (i.e., heads of agencies, chairs of Crown corporations and agents of Parliament) is coordinated by the Privy Council Office, Senior Personnel Secretariat, on behalf of the Prime Minister's Office. For all other appointments, Ministers and their offices are responsible for establishing the selection process, supported by their departments.

Specific statutes and guidelines govern the conduct and actions of GIC appointees while in office. Each of the following links to a more detailed description:

The Conflict of Interest Act establishes conflict of interest and post-employment compliance measures for public office-holders. The Act is administered by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

The Ethical Guidelines and Statutory Standards of Conduct outline four ethical principles that must be adhered to by all public office holders.

The Guidelines for the Political Activities of Public Office Holders are based on the general principle that public office holders should not participate in any political activity which might impair, or be seen to impair, their ability to discharge their duties in a politically impartial manner or cast doubt on the integrity or impartiality of the office.