Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion has cited yet another Liberal MP for contravening ethics laws by signing a letter of support for a broadcasting company.
According to a report from Dion’s office, Hull–Aylmer MP and parliamentary secretary to the prime minister Greg Fergus broke the law when writing a letter supporting Natyf Inc.’s broadcasting license application.
“Commissioner Dion found that the letter of support was intended to influence a (Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission) decision in order to further the private interests of Natyf Inc,” the judgment claimed.
“Commissioner Dion determined that Mr. Fergus sought to improperly further Natyf Inc.’s private interests because he intervened in the decision-making process of a quasi-judicial tribunal.”
Fergus was found to have violated section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act which “prohibits public office holders from using their position as a public office holder to seek to influence a decision of another person so as to further the public office holder’s private interests or those of their relatives or friends or to improperly further another person’s private interests.”
Natyf Inc. is a French-language international television network.
The latest ethics violation comes only a few short months after International Trade Minister Mary Ng was also found to have broken ethics laws by hiring the public relations company of her friend Amanda Alvaro, who is also a regular CBC pundit, for federal contract work.
Other Liberals found to have broken ethics codes include Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who was cited for violating the law twice, former finance minister and Liberal MP Bill Morneau, Liberal Minister Dominic LeBlanc and others.
“Given his years of experience and his position in government, Mr. Fergus should have been aware of these rules and should have sought advice from this Office before writing the letter,” wrote Dion in his latest decision.
“Over the last five years and on several occasions, I have observed senior officials being unaware of their obligations and mistakenly making assumptions. Offers to provide training and educational sessions on a variety of topics have been offered to all federal parties and to regulatees, yet we continue to see a succession of mistakes that are largely attributable to the inability to recognize the need to seek consultation.”
In his decision, Dion also suggested that senior members of the Liberal government be mandated to receive ethics training.