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Democracy Watch calls for ethics inquiry into Finance Minister’s participation in WE Charity contracting process, and also for an RCMP investigation

Based on NDP and Conservative requests filed so far, neither Ethics Commissioner nor RCMP are investigating clear evidence that Minister Morneau others acting on his behalf participated in and/or tried to influence the decision to give a sole-source contract to WE Charity worth up to $43.5 million

Democracy Watch also calls on Ethics Commissioner to ensure investigation and ruling that Morneau violated ethics law by announcing $3 million in funding to WE Charity in August 2019

Ethics Commissioner should not investigate or rule himself as he was handpicked by Trudeau Cabinet through secretive, dishonest, biased process

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, July 27, 2020

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released the 15-page letter it has sent to federal Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion and the 9-page letter it has sent to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, calling for investigations and rulings on the confirmed actions of Finance Minister Bill Morneau and others acting on his behalf participating in and trying to influence the decision the government claims public servants made on their own to recommend that a sole-source contract of up to $43,5 million be awarded to WE Charity to administer the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) program.

DWatch’s letter to the Ethics Commissioner also calls on him to rule that, by announcing $3 million in funding to WE Charity in August 2019, Minister Morneau violated the federal ethics law.

Two weeks ago, Democracy Watch called for similar investigations by the Ethics Commissioner and RCMP of the actions of Prime Minister Trudeau and his PMO staff and officials in participating in the decision to hand WE Charity the contract.

As Democracy Watch’s letter details, Minister Morneau’s family has had extensive ties to WE Charity since at least the summer of 2017 which created a conflict of interest for him, including his one daughter working with the organization in the past, his other daughter currently working for the organization, and he and his wife donating a total of $100,000 to the organization since 2018.

Therefore, as the evidence revealed last week makes clear, especially in the July 22nd testimony at the House Finance Committee by Minister Morneau and Department of Finance Assistant Deputy Minister Michelle Kovacevic, by participating in and attempting to influence the contracting process with WE Charity from April 5 to June 3, 2020, including through actions by his staff and officials acting on his behalf, and by announcing $3 million in funding for WE Charity in August 2019, Minister Morneau violated subsection 6(1) and section 9 of the federal Conflict of Interest Act (and section 21 by failing to recuse himself, and possibly also sections 7 (by giving WE preferential treatment) and 8 (if secret inside information was used).

Democracy Watch is calling on the Ethics Commissioner to ensure this inquiry is undertaken because the letters from Conservative MPs Barrett, Poilievre and Cooper (July 23rd) and NDP MP Charlie Angus (also July 23rd) to Ethics Commissioner Dion only request that Mr. Dion investigate whether Minister Morneau violated the Act when he and his family accepted more than $41,000 in travel expenses from WE Charity in 2017.

The MPs’ requests do not ask the Ethics Commissioner to investigate and rule on whether Minister Morneau or anyone acting on his behalf violated the Act by participating in and/or tried to influence the decision to recommend a sole-source contract be given to WE Charity, nor whether Minister Morneau violated the Act by announcing the August 2019 funding for WE Charity.

Letter to RCMP re: breach of trust investigation

DWatch also released the 9-page letter it mailed to the RCMP on Monday calling for an investigation into whether Minister Morneau or anyone acting on his behalf, by participating in and attempting to influence the decision to recommend a sole-source contract be awarded to WE Charity, violated the section 122 breach of trust section of the Criminal Code.

Under the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in R. v. Boulanger (para. 58), there is a five-part test for breach of trust. The WE Charity contract situation involves evidence for all five parts, as Minister Morneau 1. is a public official; 2. who took part in an official decision; 3. that violates the ethics rules for his office; 4. and violates those rules in a significant way, and; 5. Minister Morneau and his family had accepted more than $41,000 in travel expenses from the WE Charity in 2017, and donated more than $100,000, which he did not disclose to officials during the contracting process. Given Morneau clearly knows the requirements of the Conflict of Interest Act as he was found guilty of not disclosing a private interest in 2017, was investigated in 2018 for violating subsection 6(1) of the Act, and has a conflict screen to prevent him from participating in decisions that affect his family’s company Morneau Shepell Inc., his actions point to a dishonest and corrupt intent in his actions which unethically furthered the financial interests of one of his family’s favourite charities.

“Democracy Watch is calling on the Ethics Commissioner to ensure an independent investigation and ruling on Minister Morneau and anyone acting on his behalf participating in and attempting to influence the decision-making process in spring 2020 in favour of recommending that a sole-source contract be awarded to WE Charity worth up to $43.5 million, and also on his announcement of $3 million in funding for WE Charity in August 2019,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “Ethics Commissioner Dion cannot do this investigation as he was handpicked by the Trudeau Cabinet through a secretive, dishonest process that the Federal Court of Appeal ruled was biased, he has a record of 8 unethical and questionable actions when he was Integrity Commissioner and his senior lawyer is a Trudeau Cabinet minister’s sister-in-law. Commissioner Dion must delegate the investigation to someone independent of his office and all political parties, such as a provincial ethics commissioner.”

“The RCMP should also investigate as there is evidence that raises the question of whether the situation involves more than just ethics violations and amounts to a breach of trust,” 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
Email: info@democracywatch.ca

Democracy Watch’s and Government Ethics Campaign and Stop Fraud Politician Spending Campaign