Ethics watchdog sends MP who hired sister a ‘letter of concern’

Liberal MP Yasmin Ratansi delivers a speech prior to the vote for the election of a new Speaker to preside over the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The federal ethics watchdog is expressing concern about a Toronto MP who hired her sister to work in her constituency office.

Mario Dion says in a tweet that he sent Yasmin Ratansi a “letter of concern” about her actions and is giving her 30 days to respond.

Read more: Trudeau says it was ‘unacceptable’ for Toronto MP to hire sister with public funds

Ratansi quit the Liberal caucus late Monday night after acknowledging in a Facebook post that she had made “an error in judgment” in employing her sister.

She said she will continue sitting as an Independent MP for Don Valley East while awaiting “guidance” from the ethics commissioner.

The conflict of interest code for MPs specifies that in carrying out parliamentary duties, an MP shall not act in any way to further the private interests of themselves, their family members or anyone else.

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Conservative ethics critic Michael Barrett, meanwhile, is asking the board of internal economy, the multi-party body that regulates how MPs spend their parliamentary and constituency office budgets, to impose “remedial measures” on Ratansi.

The board, chaired by House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota, has the power to order Ratansi to reimburse all the money paid to her sister, which could amount to as much as $89,700 a year.

In a letter Thursday to Rota, Barrett noted the board of internal economy amended its bylaws in 2012 to expressly forbid MPs from using parliamentary resources to hire their siblings.

Read more: Toronto MP resigns from Liberal caucus after employing sister at constituency office

“Not only is the behaviour revealed in the (CBC) news report disturbing, but it is a blatant misuse of the public resources made available to MPs in order to represent our constituents and the board of internal economy must respond,” Barrett wrote.