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Committee must ask Interim Ethics Commissioner von Finckenstein key questions about PM’s trip, enforcement record and appointment

He has buried 8 ethics complaints, including about PM Trudeau, and gutted 3 key rules – is he the handpicked lapdog Trudeau wants as Ethics Commissioner?

Ethics standards and enforcement will be dangerously weakened if he is appointed to another term – opposition parties must stop his re-appointment

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch called on MPs on the House Ethics Committee to ask Interim Ethics Commissioner Konrad von Finckenstein the following key questions when he testifies before the Committee today at 11:00 am:

1.  Why has he and Prime Minister Trudeau not disclosed the communications from the PMO/PCO concerning the Trudeau family’s Jamaica trip? Section 43 of the Conflict of Interest Act applies to the situation and only requires that the Commissioner’s advice be kept confidential – the Commissioner is allowed to disclose the information the office holder submitted. And there is no provision in any federal law that allows the PM to keep that information secret;

2.  How was he appointed and will he disclose the secret communications he had with the Trudeau Cabinet/PMO/PCO during that process (given the Trudeau Cabinet is hiding communication records that show how they chose him)?

3.  What has the Cabinet communicated to him, if anything, about being reappointed for another 6-month term after his current term ends on February 29th? Will he disclose all those communications?

4.  What has the Cabinet communicated to him, if anything, about the appointment process for the Ethics Commissioner to be appointed to a 7-year term (given the deadline to apply was May 23, 2023)? Will he disclose all those communications?

5.  And what is his response to Democracy Watch’s analysis that concludes, after being on the job only a few months, von Finckenstein already has one of the worst government ethics enforcement records it has seen from commissioners across Canada in the past 20 years, given he has buried at least 8 ethics complaints and gutted 3 key ethics rules?

Because of his negligently bad enforcement record, and because the Trudeau Cabinet handpicked von Finckenstein through a secret, partisan, Cabinet-controlled process, Democracy Watch also called on opposition parties to do everything they can to stop the Cabinet from renewing him for another 6-month term at the end of February or, even worse, appointing him to a 7-year term as Ethics Commissioner (the Cabinet is required to consult with opposition party leaders before making a 7-year term appointment).

The Federal Court of Appeal ruled unanimously in 2020 that the Cabinet is biased when it chooses democracy watchdogs like the Ethics Commissioner.  The Trudeau Cabinet in 2016-2017 used a similar secret, partisan, Cabinet-controlled process to appoint several key democratic good government watchdogs, and the opposition parties pushed back a bit but then rolled over and let the Liberals get away with it.

“Given Mr. von Finckenstein has one of the worst enforcement records of any ethics commissioner across Canada in the past 20 years after being in the job only five months, appointing him to another six-month term or even worse a seven-year term as ethics commissioner would dangerously undermine federal political ethics standards and allow Cabinet ministers, Cabinet staff, top government officials and MPs to make many more unethical decisions and be let off every time,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “Canadians can only hope that opposition parties do the right thing and stop Prime Minister Trudeau from once again, as he did in 2017, appointing his own ethics lapdog after handpicking him through a secret, partisan, Cabinet-controlled process.”

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Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
Email: [email protected]

Democracy Watch’s Stop Bad Government Appointments Campaign and Government Ethics Campaign