The Canadian Commissioner for Ethics has issued compliance orders in violation of the Conflict of Interest Act against sitting Parliamentarians and members of the government regarding letters sent by them to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
After looking into the matter of Minister Jim Flaherty’s letter of support on behalf of a business in his constituency, Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson issued a compliance order to the Minister in mid January, under section 30 of the Conflict of Interest Act.
In the order, she notes that it was improper for Flaherty, as a minister, to have written a letter of support to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on behalf of a radio station in his constituency seeking a broadcasting licence from the CRTC.
The order directs Flaherty to refrain from writing similar letters in the future without seeking approval from her office.
While ministers are not precluded from representing their constituents in their capacity as Members of Parliament, they are prohibited, under section 9 of the Act, from using their positions as public office holders to seek to influence decision-making so as to improperly further the private interests of another person.
As the facts are clear and an order has been made, the Commissioner will not be launching an investigation.
Under section 30 of the Conflict of Interest Act, the Commissioner may order a public office holder to take any compliance measure that the Commissioner determines is necessary to comply with the Act. Compliance orders are posted in the public registry under the Act.
Dawson has also ruled that MPs Eve Adams, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Veterans Affairs, and Colin Carrie, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Health, had, in sending letters to the CRTC on behalf of radio stations in their constituencies applying for broadcast licenses, violated the rules.
Adams and Corrie maintained they were representing the interests of their constituents in both cases.