Ethics Commissioner Received A Complaint About Morneau In September – Did Nothing

It was revealed yesterday that Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson received a letter outlining concerns about Morneau's potential conflict of interest almost two months before she launched her investigation on November 10th.

Ethics Commissioner and finance Minister
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Ethical Concerns get Worse as Commissioner Falls Under Question

Bill Morneau is a headache that simply won’t go away for the Liberals. In fact, the Morneau situation continues to grow in the eyes of the public. It was revealed yesterday that Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson received a letter outlining concerns about Morneau’s potential conflict of interest almost two months before she launched her investigation on November 10th.

As reported by the Globe and Mail, Dawson received early warning about concerns with Bill C-24:

“A group representing retired Canada Post workers hand-delivered a letter to Ms. Dawson’s office on Sept. 18, outlining its concern about the Finance Minister’s shares in Morneau Shepell and his involvement in drafting legislation to rewrite federal pension law.”

The revelation that the Canada Post Pension Advisory Council (CPPAC) approached Dawson so far in advance of her launching an investigation is a problem for Dawson, Morneau and Justin Trudeau.

The issue is a continuation of the problems swirling around Morneau and Trudeau. The revelation is the first time that there have been questions about Dawson’s actions with respect to her handling of the ethical concerns swirling around Morneau.

Why Did Dawson Wait So Long?

The concerns of the CPPAC were eventually validated by Dawson’s decision to launch an investigation of Morneau. The delay by Dawson is only part of the reason to question her actions.

Her office admitted last week that the investigation was launched because of requests by the Conservatives and the NDP. A second concern that arises from yesterday’s revelation is why the concerns of the CPPAC were not given due concern earlier.

If ethics can be defined as doing the right thing when no one is watching then the actions of Mary Dawson are certainly of ethical concern. Dawson received information about Morneau that is substantially similar to the information on which she based her investigation almost seven weeks later.

Dawson’s office was aware of the situation with Morneau for more than seven weeks before taking action. Her office took steps to investigate Morneau only when the concerns about Cill C-27 received heightened public attention.

We don’t know what exactly happened in Mary Dawson’s office after the CPPAC delivered the letter. Dawson may not have read the letter. She may have seen the letter and dismissed it. Regardless of what happened with the letter it certainly doesn’t look good for Dawson now.

What Does It Mean For The Liberals?

The insistence of the Liberals on trying to use Mary Dawson as a justification for Morneau’s actions is becoming increasingly harmful to them politically. Morneau’s use of a so-called ethics screen was clearly inadequate in this case. The screen clearly wasn’t functioning properly if Morneau was able to sponsor Bill C-27 despite the existence of the screen.

The story about the CPPAC letter is another piece of bad news for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. The Liberals will again be on the defensive because of the story. The story also damages the credibility of Mary Dawson and hurts the Liberals as a result.

Bill Morneau is the gift that keeps on giving to the opposition parties. Every story that comes out about Morneau is more trouble for the Liberals. The stream of negative stories about Morneau is already hurting the popularity of the Liberals.

The longer Justin Trudeau keeps Bill Morneau in his cabinet the more it undermines Trudeau’s credibility. Trudeau’s choice of Morneau is increasingly becoming evidence of poor judgment by our prime minister.  The longer Bill Morneau remains in cabinet the more that will serve to undermine the credibility of the current government.


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Burt Schoeppe

Burt is a dedicated CPA based in Edmonton. When not at work assessing financial competencies he can be found cheering for the Oilers or the Redskins. In terms of the economy, he advocates for fiscal responsibility at all levels of government.

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