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Ethics commissioner examining Bill Morneau's role in pension bill

Ethics commissioner examining Bill Morneau's role in pension bill
From CBC - November 10, 2017

Finance Minister Bill Morneau's actions related to the introduction of a pensions bill are being examined by Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson to see if they violatedthe Conflictof Interest Act.

"I am of the view that I have reasonable grounds to commence an examination under subsection 45(1), and have so informed Minister Morneau," Dawson said in a letter to Conservative finance criticPierre Poilievre.

Dawson initiated the examination after Conservative finance critic Poilievre, and NDPMP Nathan Cullenwrote to the commissioner earlier this fall asking her to look into the finance minister's role in the bill.

In an Oct.16 letter Cullen asked Dawson to look into Morneau's sponsorship of Bill C-27; donewhile he still owned shares in his family's pension company, MorneauShepell.

Cullen argued that, because Morneau held about one million shares at the time, he could make millions if the bill passed.

Poilievrehad asked Dawson to investigate whetherMorneauviolated both the Conflict of Interest Act (which applies to cabinet ministers)and the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons (which applies to allMPs).

But in her letter to Poilievreon Friday,Dawson said she would only examineMorneau'sactions under the former.

The ethics watchdog also told Poilievre that, even though he did not specify what specific area of the act may have been violated, she decided she had enough information to launch her own examination.

Dogged by controversy

Morneau has been dogged by controversy over his ownership of the company's shares and his use of private corporations to hold his assetsincluding one he failed to declare until September, which holds a villa in France.Morneau agreed to pay a $200 fine for failing to declare the company that owns the villato Dawson when he was elected.

The finance minister met last monthwith the conflict of interest commissioner about the ownership of the one million shares which are worth about$20 million. After that meetinghe announcedhe wasplacing his assets in a blind trust and was divesting shares in his family-built company to calm a growing ethics controversy over his personal holdings

Problem of his own making

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