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Ethics Commissioner issues misleading letter in cover-up of his ruling on appointments of judges connected to Dominic LeBlanc – Democracy Watch writes back calling for public ruling based on new info

Commissioner committed to issue public rulings on all complaints, but his senior lawyer is LeBlanc’s sister-in-law – is that why he is refusing to issue a ruling?

Democracy Watch filed court case last November challenging federal judicial appointment system for being too political

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, March 24, 2021

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released the letter it received recently from federal Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion in response to the letter Democracy Watch sent last month calling on the Ethics Commissioner to issue a ruling, finally, on Democracy Watch’s complaint filed in July 2019. The complaint requested an independent investigation into whether Trudeau Cabinet Minister Dominic LeBlanc violated the federal government’s ethics law by participating in the appointment process for judges in New Brunswick with financial and other connections to him.

In his letter, Ethics Commissioner Dion claims that examinations and inquiries he conducts are confidential. However, he doesn’t mention that when he concludes an examination/investigation he is required to issue a public ruling if an MP or Senator has filed the complaint (under subsection 44(8) of the Conflict of Interest Act), and under section 45 of the Act if he has self-initiated the investigation and not tried to bury the results by discontinuing the investigation.

As well, when testifying before the House Ethics Committee in December 2017 about his appointment, Commissioner Dion committed to issue a public ruling on every complaint he received.

Democracy Watch also released the letter it has sent back to the Ethics Commissioner, pointing to all of the new information that been revealed since July 2019 by a federal government whistleblower showing that the Minister of Justice and/or Prime Minister’s Office consult with Cabinet ministers and MPs from each province before appointing judges in their province.

“Ethics Commissioner Dion’s letter amounts to a cover-up of his ruling on Dominic LeBlanc’s participation in appointing New Brunswick judges who have connections to him,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “Given what has been revealed over the past year about how the Minister of Justice and PMO consult with Cabinet ministers and Liberal MPs about the appointments of judges in their provinces, it is difficult to believe that Dominic LeBlanc did not participate in the process appointing these judges who have financial and other connections to him.”

“Is Commissioner Dion refusing to issue a ruling because he was handpicked by the Trudeau Cabinet through a biased, secretive, dishonest process, and his senior lawyer is LeBlanc’s sister-in-law? Commissioner Dion should have long ago delegated the investigation to someone independent of his office and all parties,” said Conacher.

See Democracy Watch’s February 25, 2021 news release and letter for more details about:

  • its July 2019 complaint;
  • the connections between Minister LeBlanc and the judges appointed in New Brunswick;
  • how LeBlanc’s participation in the decision-making process to appoint the judges would be a clear violation of the Conflict of Interest Act, and;
  • how the Ethics Commissioner is biased.

Democracy Watch filed a court case last November challenging the federal judicial appointment process for being too political because the Minister of Justice controls the process too much, including consulting with other ministers, and Liberal MPs and party members before making the final choice about who will be appointed.

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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 Stop Bad Government Appointments Campaign and Government Ethics Campaign