At least that was the case for him, last week.
“You know, I think I can say that every one of us, when we’re speaking all week long, there might be one word or two that we might take back,” he said in an interview with Global National’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Vassy Kapelos.
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Morneau’s “one word or two” from last week was telling a pack of journalists he doesn’t “report to journalists.”
This month – and the past couple of weeks in particular – has been bumpy for Morneau, as several aspects of his tax reform proposals were under constant attack from politicians and citizens, his potential conflicts of interest brought to light and his ethics questioned.
While journalists continued to dig on the story last week, Morneau appeared to demonstrate an increasing level of impatience and annoyance.
One reporter asked why the minister owned numbered companies.
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“So, is the question? Why they’re numbered companies and they don’t have names? You know, seriously,” Morneau said last Friday.
“The process we have in our country isn’t that I report to journalists on my personal situation, it’s that I report to the ethics commissioner and I make sure that she fully understands my situation.”
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A few days after his initial comment, the minister conceded he answers to “all” Canadians.
“And, of course, journalists are Canadians too,” he said. “So … I’m going to make sure that I’m doing the work that I need to do to be free of conflicts. I’m quite confident that that’s been the case for the last two years working with the ethics commissioner, but I’m going to make absolutely sure of that.”
Last week, in hopes of quelling widespread accusations he was in a conflict of interest, the former businessman said he would unload about one million shares in the family business, called Morneau Shepell, that he helped build with his father over 25 years.
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Despite his efforts – which include a promise to place his other substantial personal assets in a blind trust – the controversy has refused to die, with opposition MPs taking every opportunity to heckle the minister.
Morneau has maintained he followed the advice of the ethics commissioner to the letter after he was elected and named finance minister. He continues to reject any suggestions he has been in a conflict of interest.
-With files from Global National’s Vassy Kapelos and The Canadian Press