Multiple Conservative MPs are calling for a change to the conflict of interest rules for members of Parliament in the wake of revelations that former Conservative leader and sitting MP Andrew Scheer hired his sister-in-law in his office.
Scheer has since ended his sister-in-law’s employment. The Globe and Mail, which first reported the news of the hire, has also since reported that Scheer used taxpayer money to employ his own sister from 2008 to 2012.
When pressed on the issue on their way into caucus on Wednesday, some Conservative MPs didn’t hold back.
“It’s the right thing to not hire your in-laws,” said Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs.
“I think probably it’s fair of Canadians to expect that elected representatives would avoid that kind of decision.”
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 interests or those of their families.
Stubbs said she believes those rules need to change.
“Probably, actually, the rules should change and be explicit,” Stubbs said.
Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus echoed the sentiment as he walked into caucus on Wednesday, noting that any gaps in the legislation that allow for the hiring of in-laws should be addressed.
“When we arrived in 2015, it was clear: you can’t hire your family. So if there’s something in the rules, we must change (them) as soon as possible because we’re not supposed to,” Paul-Hus said.
While he said he’s unsure of the party position regarding the hiring of in-laws, he said he thinks it shouldn’t be allowed.
“I don’t think we must allow,” Paul-Hus said. “For myself, I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
As the fallout of the revelations continue, Liberal MP Ginette Petitpas Taylor took to Twitter on Tuesday to share her plans to ask the Board of Internal Economy — the governing body of the House of Commons — to investigate Scheer’s decision to hire his sister-in-law.
“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 the wake of that request, Conservative MP Scott Aitchison said he believes it’s “an important issue for them to talk about.”
While he noted that he “certainly” hasn’t hired his own family members or in-laws, he said he doesn’t want to prejudge the discussions that will take place at the Board of Internal Economy meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday.
“I’ll wait and see what they come up with,” Aitchison said.
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole did not comment on the issue as he walked into caucus on Wednesday, though he said in a Tuesday press conference that he has “high expectations” for the conduct and transparency of his MPs.
“I expect my team to live up to and exceed the expectations Canadians have for us,” O’Toole said at the time.
As he left caucus on Wednesday, O’Toole once again refrained from directly commenting on the issue – but he did share the message he said he had for caucus during the meeting.
“We’re a government in waiting. We have to act like that,” O’Toole said.