October 23rd, 2017

NDP moves to censure Morneau, close ethics loopholes

OTTAWA – On Monday, the NDP tabled a motion in the House of Commons which outlines Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s ethical lapses, demands an apology from the Minister, and calls on the government to close the loopholes Morneau used to get around the Conflict of Interest Act.

“Too many Canadians already believe that politicians are only out to serve their own interests,” said Nathan Cullen, NDP Ethics Critic. “Through his own actions Minister Morneau has bolstered cynicism in our politics and he needs to take some responsibility.”

The NDP motion lays out the facts surrounding the Morneau scandal including that he misled the public in believing his shares of his former company, Morneau Shepell, were in a blind trust, that he introduced legislation that would benefit that company and himself through his shares, and that he used a number company to get around rules that prevent conflicts of interest.

“The Finance Minister was regulating and tabling legislation on an industry in which he had millions of dollars invested,” said Alexandre Boulerice the NDP’s Finance Critic. “If the Liberals hope to rebuild trust with Canadians they need to admit their mistakes and move quickly to close the Morneau loophole.”

Text of the motion:

That, given the Minister of Finance:

(a) after being elected to Parliament in 2015, led Canadians to believe that he had placed his shares in Morneau Shepell into a blind trust, while never having done so;

(b) used a loophole in the Conflict of Interest Act to place his shares in a private numbered company instead of divesting them or placing them in a blind trust;

(c) on October 19, 2016, sponsored Bill C-27, An Act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985, a bill that would reasonably be expected to profit Morneau Shepell and the Minister of Finance in light of his continued ownership of shares in Morneau Shepell through a company he controls;

(d) was and remains in charge of regulating the pension industry in which he has had a personal economic interest; and

(e) has failed to live up to the ethical standards set forth by the Prime Minister in his mandate letter to the Minister;

the House call on the Minister of Finance to apologize to the House and to Canadians for breaking their trust, and the House call on the government to immediately close the loopholes in the Conflict of Interest Act as recommended by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, in order to prevent a Minister of the Crown from personally benefiting from their position or creating the perception thereof.