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DWatch calls on Senate Ethics Officer to rule Senator Campbell’s corporate board position and investments violate ethics code

Senate Ethics Officer should also review and rule that other senators’ significant board positions and investments also violate key ethic code integrity rules

Senate Ethics Officer should disclose more than 700 secret rulings that have been issued since 2014, and make all rulings public in the future

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, September 27, 2018

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch release the letter it sent yesterday to Senate Ethics Officer Pierre Legault calling on him to investigate and issue a ruling that Senator Larry Campbell’s position as a board member with Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (with stock options in the company) violates the purpose and rules of the Senate ethics code.

Democracy Watch also called on the Ethics Officer Legault to review the board positions and investments of all senators, and to issue the same ruling for any senator who holds a position as a board member or executive or who has investments in any corporation that has interests in the province they represent or interests affected by federal laws.

As well, Democracy Watch called on Ethics Officer Legault to make public the more than 700 secret rulings made by Ethics Officer Lyse Ricard from April 1, 2014 to June 2017, and by Ethics Officer Legault from July 2017 on. The first Senate Ethics Officer, Jean T. Fournier, included summaries of key opinions he gave to senators in his annual reports from 2006 to 2012, and Ethics Officer Ricard did the same in her reports for 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. However, Ms. Ricard did not include in her annual reports any summaries of rulings issued from April 1, 2014 to the end of her time in office in June 2017. Mr. Legault also did not include any of these rulings in his first annual report.

Section 1 of the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators sets out the purposes of the Code including ensuring and actually enhancing public confidence and trust in the integrity of senators and the Senate. Subsection 2(1) of the Code requires senators to give precedence to their parliamentary duties and functions over any other duty or activity, and subsection 2(2) sets out principles senators are expected to uphold, including avoiding even the appearance of a conflict of interest. Section 7.2 requires senators to perform their parliamentary functions and duties with dignity, honour and integrity.

Both subsection 2(1) and section 7.2 are new rules added to the Code in June 2014. Neither rule has been interpreted or applied since then in any public ruling of the Senate Ethics Officer.

Democracy Watch’s opinion is that because Great Canadian Gaming operates businesses in B.C. that are the subject of investigations and regulatory reviews in B.C., and that are subject to federal laws as well, Senator Larry Campbell duties as a board member of the company, and his stock options in the company, conflict with the overall public interest of the people of B.C. that Senator Campbell has a duty to represent and uphold as a senator from B.C., and violate rules in the Senate ethics code.

“Senator Campbell is in a constant conflict of interest between his duties as a board member to further the company’s interests and his duty as a senator to uphold the overall public interest of the people of B.C.,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “The Senate ethics rules require senators to dedicate themselves to their duties as a senator over all other activities, and to always act with integrity and avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, and no senator can comply with those rules when they are a board member, executive or investor in a corporation that is regulated by federal laws or operates in the province they are supposed to represent.”

“Senators can help their company’s interests not only by taking part in discussions, debates and votes that affect the company’s interests but also by not doing anything such as not making any public statements or proposals that would hurt the company’s interests,” said Conacher. “That’s why it’s so important for the Senate Ethics Officer to rule that it’s a violation of the Senate ethics rules for a senator to be a board member, executive or investor in a corporation that has interests in the province they represent or that is regulated by federal laws.”

“It’s also important for Senate Ethics Officer Legault to disclose the past four years of secret rulings by himself and his predecessor Lyse Ricard, and continue in the future to disclose as the public has a right to know how the Senate ethics rules have been interpreted and applied in every case,” said Conacher.

In its letter, Democracy Watch also noted, that while Prime Minister Trudeau claims that the appointment of Mr. Legault as Senate Ethics Officer was the result of an “open, transparent and merit-based” process, it was, as summarized by Mr. Legault during his hearing before the Senate on December 11, 2017, actually a closed, secretive process involving unknown people who work in the Privy Council Office, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Senate. The appointment process was, therefore, partisan and political in ways that fundamentally undermine the Senate Ethics Officer’s independence.

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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