Conflict of Interest Commissioner resigns over conflict of interest

The interim Ethics & Conflict of Interest Commissioner has stepped down from her role. Martine Richard is now known to be a sister-in-law to a senior Liberal cabinet minister - though no wrongdoing is alleged at this time.

By CityNews Staff

Canada is without a Conflict of Interest Commissioner after the interim officeholder stepped out of the role due to questions about her connection to a senior cabinet minister in the Liberal government.

“The opposition parties were correct in prompting the beginning of an investigation,” said Richard LeBlanc, an ethics professor at York University.

Martine Richard had been under scrutiny since it was learned that she is a sister-in-law of intergovernmental affairs minister Dominic LeBlanc.

She was appointed on an interim basis when Mario Dion resigned from the role in February, due to health concerns. After leaving the office, Dion noted the federal liberal cabinet seemed to be ignorant of conflict of interest rules. Ethics professor Richard LeBlanc says ethical issues keep dogging the Trudeau government.

“There’s a culture here of acceptable conflict of interest, that tends to have permeated ministers in Ottawa that should not have occurred.”

Leblanc adds that all political parties and actors need to take the time to re-acquaint themselves with ethics rules. The Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner says will continue to offer guidance to parliamentarians until a new commissioner is selected.

In the House of Commons, opposition ethics critic Michael Barrett highlighted the credibility problem with government appointments.

“Which will it be? Will they appoint a family member, friend, or a Trudeau foundation board member to be the next ethics commissioner?” asked Barrett.

Kevin Holland, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons replied, “Mr. Speaker, as always, we will appoint qualified people who are working in those positions with expertise, and that’s assuredly what we’re going to do in the future.”

-With files from Xiao Li

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