Among the Liberals who voted against the motion to have Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion testify before this week’s committee on his SNC-Lavalin report was an MP who was caught breaching conflict of interest rules by Dion only a month ago.
Liberal MP Anita Vandenbeld was found guilty in July of trying to use her position to sway voters to vote for her husband for an Ottawa city council seat.
“The documentary evidence revealed a campaign strategy aimed at using Ms. Vandenbeld’s position as a Member of the House of Commons to communicate with voters in order to convey a positive endorsement of her spouse as a serious candidate so as to increase his chances of being elected,” said Dion’s official report.
On Wednesday, Vandenbeld was one of the five Liberal MPs present on the committee who blocked Conservative MP Peter Kent’s motion to have Dion testify on his damning SNC-Lavalin report.
The report titled Trudeau II found that Justin Trudeau broke section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act which “ prohibits Members from using their position as a Member to influence a decision of another person so as to further their private interests.”
“For these reasons, I found that Mr. Trudeau used his position of authority over Ms. Wilson‑Raybould to seek to influence, both directly and indirectly, her decision on whether she should overrule the Director of Public Prosecutions’ decision not to invite SNC-Lavalin to enter into negotiations towards a remediation agreement,” said Dion in his decision.
In October 2018 Vandenbeld sent robocalls and publicly campaigned for her husband, including sending her constituents letters of support for the candidate. She was then also investigated for breaking section 9, as well as section 11.
While Vandenbeld was not found to have contravened section 9, she was found to have contravened section 11.
“Section 11 of the Code prohibits Members from attempting to engage in any of the activities prohibited under sections 8 to 10 of the Code. It serves to bring within the scope of the Code any actions intended to further private interests, regardless of their result,” said Dion.
Dion didn’t apply a penalty with his finding, though he’s only empowered to fine MPs up to $500.
Commissioner Dion ruled that while Vandenbeld was guilty of breaching conflict-of-interest rules she would receive no punishment.