Starting from the premise that ethical codes fulfil important ideological functions, we document the trajectory of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario's [ICAO] ethical code since their incorporation in 1883. In the analysis that follows, we argue that shifts occurred in how the written ethical code spoke of, and conceptualized, “professional ethics”. We also propose that these shifts can be read as responses to changing circumstances: the ideological effect being to provide “compelling reasons” for the maintenance of professional privilege. The provided analysis contributes to our understanding of the role and functioning of ethical codes and highlights the political importance of memory, especially given the ahistorical nature of current day discussions of professional ethics.

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