Evidence of meeting #73 for Procedure and House Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was ontario.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Eric Montigny  Professor, Department of Political Science, Université Laval, As an Individual
Leslie Seidle  Research Director, Institute for Research on Public Policy, As an Individual
Mary Dawson  Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner
Karen Shepherd  Commissioner of Lobbying, Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying
Greg Essensa  Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Ontario

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

When you refer to reports, are those actually decisions you had to render?

October 17th, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.

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

Mary Dawson

Sorry, when I refer to reports—

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

In your document, when you refer to reports, are those decisions that you rendered?

12:15 p.m.

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

Mary Dawson

Yes. I'm not sure where I referred to it, but they're reports of either an examination or an inquiry or an annual report.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

They are reports. You called them reports. That is the title you give them.

12:15 p.m.

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

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Are those reports subject to appeal?

12:15 p.m.

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

Mary Dawson

They are potentially subject to judicial review on certain limited grounds, like due process.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Yes, so it's much more complicated than—

12:15 p.m.

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

Mary Dawson

Yes, you go to the Federal Court and it's a judicial review.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Is your office audited? Are your administrative practices, so your managerial practices, the way MPs are treated, the time to respond and everything, audited?

12:15 p.m.

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

Mary Dawson

We report on that, but it's not specifically audited. We have people auditing our financial management and that sort of thing.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Are you, as commissioner, supervised by anybody?

12:15 p.m.

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

Mary Dawson

Do I supervise what?

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

No, are you, as the commissioner, supervised by anybody?

12:20 p.m.

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

Mary Dawson

Parliament.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Parliament. When you refer here to potential conflicts of interest, I'd like to know how you see the conflict of interest when somebody makes a donation to any of the members of Parliament here. For instance, some are not even in government, so where would the conflict of interest or the potential apparent conflict of interest be?

12:20 p.m.

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

Mary Dawson

I alluded to that. I have to go by the rules in my legislation, and there is no rule in the members' code. There is a rule in the act, which says that a minister is not allowed to personally solicit funds, and so I've always said it's a very limited rule in the act.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Who is not personally—

12:20 p.m.

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

Mary Dawson

The minister cannot, nor can the parliamentary secretary—a public office holder generally—solicit, personally, funds if doing so would put him or her in a conflict of interest.

Okay, that's the only rule I have.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Again, it doesn't answer the question, because the answer is “if” it would put him in a conflict of interest. Conflict is not assumed. It would have to be demonstrated.

12:20 p.m.

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

Mary Dawson

Yes, that's right. There is no rule against—

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

It has to be one interest on one side and another interest on the other side, and they have to be opposing interests. You can't serve both. That's when there is a conflict.

12:20 p.m.

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

Mary Dawson

That's right. The conflict would be in the minister—no, I'm sorry. There is no conflict rule on that. Let me just think. I'm sorry, I've confused myself.

It's in section 16, which says no public officer shall personally solicit funds from a person if that would place the public office holder in a conflict of interest. So that would mean if he was looking for something from the person from whom he was soliciting funds.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Nicola Di Iorio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Exactly.

The witness who testified before you referred to the situation in Quebec and said that in Quebec the simple fact of soliciting funds is poorly perceived. The population reacts very negatively to that.

Surely you will agree with me that this doesn't serve democracy well, that poor perception.