Morneau not the only cabinet minister using conflict-of-interest loophole: ethics watchdog

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Morneau not the only cabinet minister using conflict-of-interest loophole: ethics watchdog

Mary Dawson’s office says ‘fewer than five cabinet ministers’ hold controlled assets indirectly

CBC News Posted: Oct 30, 2017 1:53 PM ET Last Updated: Oct 30, 2017 3:37 PM ET

Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson is considering whether to launch a formal investigation into whether Finance Minister Bill Morneau had a conflict of interest in sponsoring a pension bill known as Bill C-27 while still owning shares in his family's pension company.

Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson is considering whether to launch a formal investigation into whether Finance Minister Bill Morneau had a conflict of interest in sponsoring a pension bill known as Bill C-27 while still owning shares in his family’s pension company. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

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Finance Minister Bill Morneau isn’t the only cabinet minister who used a conflict-of-interest technicality to maintain control of their assets while in power, the ethics watchdog confirms.

The office of Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson wouldn’t identify who else at the cabinet table holds controlled assets indirectly. It would only confirm “fewer than five cabinet ministers” do so, and they are not required to sell those assets off or put them in a blind trust.

The story was first reported by the Globe and Mail on Monday morning.

The Conflict of Interest Act covers assets that are directly held, a loophole Dawson has complained about.

The act defines controlled assets as “assets whose value could be directly or indirectly affected by government decisions or policy,” and includes things like publicly traded securities of corporations, registered retirement and education plans and stock options.

Trudeau says Conservative finance minister used same mechanisms as Morneau2:08

After being dogged by controversy over the shares and his use of private corporations to hold his assets, Morneau announced earlier this month that he would place his assets in a blind trust and divest shares worth about $20 million in his family-built company.

He later said he would donate to charity the difference in the value of his shares in Morneau Shepell between when he was elected in October 2015 and the day they’re sold.

Dawson is now considering whether to launch a formal investigation into whether Morneau had a conflict of interest in sponsoring a pension bill known as Bill C-27 while still owning shares in his family’s pension company.

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Morneau not the only cabinet minister using conflict-of-interest loophole: ethics watchdog

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