Evidence of meeting #31 for Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was office.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Suzanne Legault  Information Commissioner, Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada
  • Layla Michaud  Interim Director General, Corporate Services Branch, Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada
  • Mary Dawson  Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner
  • Denise Benoit  Director, Corporate Management, Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner

12:20 p.m.

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner

Mary Dawson

That's right. Sometimes witnesses are simply not available for a couple of months. Sometimes it takes time to get documents. Sometimes there are a lot of witnesses. All those things happened in the most recent case.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Okay.

In a case by Mr. Angus, I want to go back to it just briefly. As I said, I often look at these things and see the partisan political purposes behind it. But the reality is that I didn't think there were a lot of new facts in the report you presented. I believe Mr. Angus, if he wasn't part of it, certainly a number of his colleagues were, when Mr. Jaffer came before committee. I didn't think there were any new facts per se, but I thought that the findings pertaining to the facts of the case were what was valuable to government, and in fact, something that, as I said, we've appreciated.

Would you agree that there weren't a lot of new facts in the report? It was more looking at the facts of the case with respect of the act.

12:25 p.m.

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner

Mary Dawson

Yes. We had to spend quite a bit of time in this case comparing the situation of Mr. Jaffer with other situations. That took us some time.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Okay, I appreciate that.

How many investigations did you conduct in the past year? Do you have that number?

12:25 p.m.

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner

Mary Dawson

Well, I have the number. We're conducting at the moment about seven, I believe.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Seven.

12:25 p.m.

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner

Mary Dawson

Yes. We have 14 files open.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Okay.

What is the source, most often, of the complaints that you're receiving? Are they most often from political parties? Are they from Canadians at large? Are they from media? What is the source of the complaints that your office reviews?

12:25 p.m.

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner

Mary Dawson

As I mentioned, about half of the investigations were on request, and only a member of Parliament or a senator can request. So those are the seven. Then, the other half are largely as a result of either media reports or private citizens.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

So your office will self-undertake an investigation? For example, if you see something in the media that you're concerned about, you may well undertake an investigation into that, whether an MP or a senator requests it or not?

12:25 p.m.

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Okay. Thank you very much.

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

12:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Jean Crowder

Thank you, Mr. Del Mastro.

Mr. Andrews, you have seven minutes.

March 27th, 2012 / 12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Avalon, NL

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you, Ms. Dawson, for coming today, and thank you for the work and the reports that you do.

You give us some good reading, educational reading, and another report tabled in Parliament today, so thank you for that.

Obviously the issue of Christian Paradis is here at hand, and it totally lacks the judgment ministers should have. This minister has attended exclusive fundraisers with clients, with public works at the time he was public works minister. He's the first cabinet minister in Canadian history to be found in violation of the Conflict of Interest Act, and now we learn that he went moose hunting and stayed at an exclusive lodge with the former owner of the Quebec Nordiques at the same time the federal government was lobbied to finance a new NHL arena in Quebec City.

All of this is very troubling.

Getting back to the report that you tabled on Mr. Paradis less than a week ago, you put substantial resources into a two-year investigation—a 34-page report—and the Minister was found to have contravened the Conflict of Interest Act.

Then the Prime Minister comes out and just shrugs it off, says thank you very much, and does absolutely nothing.

Madam Commissioner, do you feel that your work is in vain, when there are really no consequences, when you put all this effort in to a report, and then nothing comes of it?

12:25 p.m.

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner

Mary Dawson

No. I think I thoroughly discussed a certain area of the act, which I hope all public office holders will understand better. I don't think it's time lost at all. I made additional observations in that report as well, relating to other aspects that I noticed.

I do try, as I said in my remarks, to take opportunities whenever I can to elucidate the rules.