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Re-elected Liberals who have violated ethics and conflict of interest laws

Here are four MPs who were re-elected in October, including the prime minister himself, to have violated ethics laws.

Canadians have re-elected Justin Trudeau and given his Liberal Party a minority government, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Trudeau government is plagued with several scandals, including numerous ethics violations.

Prime Minister Trudeau was the first Prime Minister in Canadian history to have broken ethics laws. Not once, but twice.

Trudeau is not alone. A number of Liberal MPs and even Cabinet Ministers have violated ethics laws.

Here are four MPs who were re-elected in October, including the prime minister himself, who were found to have violated ethics laws.

Justin Trudeau: accepting gifts from the Aga Khan

In 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was found to have violated conflict of interest laws for accepting gifts and a vacation from the Aga Khan. Investigations by the ethics commissioner found that Trudeau broke four sections of the Conflict of Interest Act.

A year earlier, the prime minister accepted a family vacation from the Aga Khan, whose foundation has received upwards of $330 million from the Canadian government for his foundation. While on vacation, Trudeau travelled to the Aga Khan’s private island on a private aircraft and helicopter. While on the private island, he also participated in conversations that could have furthered the private interests of the Aga Khan.

“I found that these gifts could reasonably be seen to have been given to influence Mr. Trudeau in the exercise of an official power, duty or function,” wrote Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion.

Further, Trudeau’s family vacation to the private island cost taxpayers over $215,000, a number which wasn’t fully disclosed to the House of Commons.

Justin Trudeau: Politically interfering in the justice system

Former Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould accused the Trudeau government of inappropriately pressuring her to politically interfere in the criminal prosecution of Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

The ethics commissioner sided with Wilson-Raybould and found that Justin Trudeau once again broke the Conflict of Interest Act.

When the Globe and Mail originally reported this story, Trudeau called the allegations “false.” However, in August, Ethics Commissioner declared that the prime minister did, in fact, break section 9 of the Act.

Despite repeated indications from Wilson-Raybould that she felt she was being pressured to give SNC-Lavalin a break, the prime minister and members of his office continued to try and interfere politically.

“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,” wrote Dion in his judgement.

During the 2019 election, Trudeau was re-elected to his seat in Papineau with 51.18% of the vote.

Dominic Leblanc: gave lucrative fishing licence to wife’s cousin’s employer

Former Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Dominic LeBlanc was found to have violated ethics laws by awarding his wife’s cousin with a lucrative Arctic surf clam fishing license.

Leblanc knowingly used his position and official powers to award the Five Nations Clam Company which employed his wife’s cousin Gilles Thériault. Thériault, who stood to benefit from the decision, was to be appointed to the position of General Manager by the company.

“As Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Mr. LeBlanc was exercising an official power, duty or function when he made the decision to pursue the proposal from the Five Nations Clam Company for the Arctic surf clam licence. His decision provided an opportunity to further the private interest of Mr. Thériault, whose compensation by the company depended on it being granted the licence,” wrote the commissioner’s ruling.

In October, LeBlanc was re-elected in Beauséjour, New Brunswick with 46.47% of the vote.

Anita Vandenbeld: trying to get her husband elected as councilor

Liberal MP Anita Vandenbeld was found to have been guilty of contravening the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons when she used her position to try and get her husband elected as a member of Ottawa’s Bay Ward city council.

In 2018, when her husband Don Dransfield ran for the spot on the council, Vandenbeld sent out campaign material and robocalls which identified her as a Member of Parliament and asked electors to vote for her husband as her “municipal counterpart.”

“I found that when Ms. Vandenbeld used her position as a Member of the House of Commons, she sought to influence those voters and that her actions could further the private interests of a family member,” wrote Commissioner Dion.

While Vandenbeld was found guilty of breaking the law, Dion ruled that it was a result of an “error in judgement made in good faith.”

Vandenbeld held onto the Ottawa West – Nepean seat this last election and was able to secure 45.6% of the votes in the riding.

Judy Sgro: fast-tracking stripper’s visa after volunteering on her campaign

In 2004, under the government of Paul Martin, current Liberal MP and then-Immigration Minister Judy Sgro was found to have been in a conflict of interest when she fast-tracked the residence permit of a Romanian stripper who volunteered on her re-election campaign. Several days before that year’s election, Sgro awarded 25-year-old Alina Balaican the permit which allowed her to remain in Canada for another two years and eventually apply for permanent resident status.

While the ethics commissioner found that Sgro herself was not aware of Balaican’s role as a campaign volunteer, her staff did and they placed the minister in a conflict of interest when she approved the application.

“There was no serious attempt to screen volunteers so as to eliminate those seeking the Minister’s active intervention for their own benefit,” wrote Ethics Commissioner Bernard Shapiro.

Judy Sgro was re-elected to her Humber River – Black Creek seat in the 2019 federal election with 61.1% of the vote.

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