Ethics commissioner investigates Bill Morneau over Bill C-27 questions

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau stands during question period in the House of Commons on on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday Nov. 7, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The office of the ethics commissioner is investigating Finance Minister Bill Morneau for his involvement in Bill C-27.

Bill C-27, which hasn’t gotten past first reading, was introduced by Morneau last year. It would affect pensions, which are sold by Morneau’s family company, Morneau Shepell.

At the time, Morneau still held about $21 million worth of shares in the company.

Morneau is now in the process of selling off his shares and placing his other considerable assets in a blind trust.

NDP critics say Morneau’s involvement in the company, which saw a jump in share prices after the bill was tabled, is a blatant conflict of interest.

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WATCH: MPs discuss Morneau’s potential conflict of interest in Question Period

The Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner confirmed Friday that commissioner Mary Dawson is investigating Morneau.

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“We can confirm that Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson has launched an examination under the Conflict of Interest Act of the conduct of Finance Minister Bill Morneau in relation to his involvement in Bill C-27,” spokesperson Margot Booth said in an email to Global News.

Booth said no other details would be given, and that there would be a full report once the examination is complete.

In response, a spokesperson from Morneau’s office said he is cooperating with Dawson during the examinations.

“Since the first day in Office, the Minister of Finance has worked with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner and followed her recommendations and advice. Including having a screen in place that was determined to be the ‘best measure of compliance’ by the Commissioner.  In this spirit, the Minister will answer any questions the Commissioner has on this matter,” Chloe Luciani-Girouard, press secretary for Morneau said.

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Dawson also announced the news to MPs who asked for investigations, including Tory Pierre Poilievre, MP for Carleton.

“I have reasonable grounds to commence an examination under subsection 45(1), and have so informed Minister Morneau,” she wrote in a letter to Poilievre.

In a letter to NDP MP Nathan Cullen, Dawson said her decision to open an investigation stems from comments from Cullen, Poilievre, as well as comments from Morneau himself.

The NDP has called on the Liberals to drop Bill C-27, which Cullen called an “olive branch” that would get rid of the bill and allow Morneau to extricate himself from the scandal.

Cullen said the examination puts everything Morneau does into a cloud of suspicion.

“Tax changes, the budget; we have no ability and no trust that Mr. Morneau isn’t in other conflicts of interest,” he told Global News by phone.

“Morneau saying, ‘Just trust me,’ isn’t going to work anymore.”

Meanwhile, Dawson has posted a notice on her website indicating that she fined Morneau $200 for failing to disclose a private corporation, in which he is a director, that owns a villa in France. The notice indicates that Morneau has paid the fine.

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Cullen is also concerned about other companies that Morneau owns, which haven’t been disclosed to Canadians.

Morneau has responded to that saying in Question Period on Wednesday that he has “disclosed all of my assets to the ethics commissioner.”

Read the letter from Mary Dawson to MP Nathan Cullen below: 

*with files from the Canadian Press


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