Conflict of Interest Commissioner must consider possible insider info and gift violations in Bill Boyd investigation and ruling

Conflict of Interest Commissioner must consider possible insider info and gift violations in Bill Boyd investigation and ruling

Commissioner must also view unedited videotape of Boyd’s presentation in China, and all his receipts, cheques, bank and financial transactions

Legislature should review situation as well and issue decision on whether Boyd violated its code of ethical conduct

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, August 21, 2017

OTTAWA - Today, Democracy Watch called on Saskatchewan’s Conflict of Interest Commissioner Ron Barclay to consider possible insider information and gift rule violations in his investigation into MLA Bill Boyd’s business venture and presentation in China. As CBC Saskatchewan reported first last week, Boyd claimed to be the chairman of a company that he promoted on a trip to China last March to possible investors who would be able to use an investment in the company as a way of immigrating to Saskatchewan and obtaining Canadian citizenship.

Mr. Boyd was the provincial Minister of the Economy until last August, and as minister was responsible for regulation of these kind of companies. Mr. Boyd has asked Commissioner Barclay to investigate the situation, as has the Saskatchewan NDP. Democracy Watch called on Mr. Boyd to disclose the full video publicly, and all his bank and financial transaction records to the Commissioner, which in its opinion he must do to comply with the provincial legislature's Code of Ethical Conduct (see more details about the Code in the last couple of paragraphs of this release).

"The Conflict of Interest Commissioner should investigate Bill Boyd's actions to determine if he violated the provincial conflict of interest law by using inside information he gained as a minister to further the interests of his Chinese associates. The Commissioner should also investigate whether Boyd received an illegal gift or other benefit connected to his trip to China and his business venture. If Boyd violated the law, the Commissioner should not allow him to escape accountability just because he has resigned," said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “To do a thorough investigation, the Commissioner must review an unedited copy of Boyd’s presentation in China, and all of his financial and bank records from the trip and business.”

Section 4 of the provincial Members' Conflict of Interest Act prohibits MLAs from using inside information to further their own or family’s or associate’s interests:

“Inside Information
4. A member shall not use information that is gained in the execution of his or her office and is not available to the general public to further or to seek to further the member’s private interest, his or her family’s private interest or the private interest of an associate.
1993, c.M-11.11, s.4.”

“Mr. Boyd couldn’t unlearn the inside information he learned while he was a Cabinet minister, and therefore it seems fairly clear that he would be using that inside information to further his own interests and the interests of his business associates,” said Conacher.

Secondly, if Mr. Boyd didn't pay for any part of his trip to China, Democracy Watch’s opinion is that he violated subsection 7(1) of the Act:

“Accepting extra benefits
7.(1) Neither a member nor any of the member’s family shall accept a fee, gift or personal benefit, except compensation authorized by law, that is connected directly or indirectly with the performance of the member’s duties of office.”

Mr. Boyd may argue that, since he is no longer minister, any gift or payment he may have accepted from his Chinese associates, or to pay for any part of his trip to China, is not connected directly or indirectly with the performance of his duties of office. However, the promotion for his seminar in China connects the seminar at least indirectly to his official position, so Democracy Watch’s opinion is that if he accepted any fee, gift, pay, reimbursement or other personal benefit connected to his trip or to his business venture, then he violated subsection 7(1) of the Act.

Democracy Watch also called on the Saskatchewan legislature to issue a decision about whether Mr. Boyd violated its Code of Ethical Conduct. Among other rules, the Code requires MLAs to uphold the highest ethical standards to “enhance public confidence and trust in government” and, like the Act, prohibits them from using inside information for personal gain, from accepting gifts, and from engaging “in personal conduct that exploits for private reasons their positions or authorities or that would tend to bring discredit to their offices.”

“All MLAs should be concerned by Boyd’s actions, and should use the results of the Commissioner’s investigation to pass a resolution concerning whether his actions violated the legislature’s code of ethical conduct,” said Conacher.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
info@democracywatch.ca

Democracy Watch’s Government Ethics Campaign

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