Former Conservative leader and sitting MP Andrew Scheer has ended his sister-in-law’s employment in his office after questions were raised about his decision to employ the family member.
Erica Honoway, who is the sibling of Scheer’s wife, was hired in the former leader’s office in 2007 to do bookkeeping work. While Scheer said in a Tuesday statement that he has checked with the ethics commissioner “whenever there has ever been a question of following the letter and the spirit of the rules,” he noted that in this case, it may not have been enough.
“Even the perception of a conflict concerns me. As such, I have met with Erica and I have ended her employment in my office,” said Scheer.
The allegations were first brought to light in a report by The Globe and Mail. After the news became public, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole was pressed for his thoughts on his predecessor’s decision.
“I expect my team to live up to and exceed the expectations Canadians have for us,” O’Toole said Tuesday morning in response to questions about Scheer’s decision to hire his sister-in-law.
O’Toole added that he has “high expectations” for the conduct and transparency of his MPs. He said he planned to speak to Scheer about those expectations.
Like all members of Parliament, Scheer is expected to abide by the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons. While the politicians are not allowed to hire siblings, there are no rules that bar the hiring of in-laws.
In-laws are also excluded from aspects of the Code that prevent MPs from furthering their private interest or those of their families.
In the wake of the reports, Liberal MP Ginette Petitpas Taylor took to Twitter on Tuesday to share her plans to ask the Board of Internal Economy to investigate the issue.
“Since the House of Commons rules against the hiring of family members were created to prevent cases of nepotism, or even the appearance of such, I would ask that this matter be reviewed by the Board at its earliest convenience,” read the statement she posted.
In his time as Conservative leader, Scheer was extremely outspoken about ethical issues. He was at the helm of the Conservative party when both the WE Charity affair and the SNC-Lavalin scandal broke — both issues where ethics were at the heart of the concerns being raised.