The Sun reported Wednesday night that NDP MP Andrew Cash has been debating and voting on matters related to the CBC while also being paid for some soundtrack work he did for Dragon’s Den. David Akin has helpfully posted the paper trail of correspondence between the Sun, Mr. Cash and the ethics commissioner. And here is a quick search of Hansard for every time Mr. Cash has uttered the acronym “CBC.”
Thing is, the ethics commissioner reports “no reason to believe” Mr. Cash broke the rules. Mr. Cash’s defence seems to rest on the argument that he wasn’t dealing with anything that directly related to Dragon’s Den.
Later that month, Mary Dawson, parliament’s conflict of interest and ethics commissioner, sent Cash a letter to clarify what his obligations were under the government’s conflict of interest code. In the letter, she said that the code prohibits you from participating in debate or from voting on matters specifically related to CBC’s funding or planning priorities that may affect your private interest. She added that Cash was able to participate in debates and votes that are of general application or that affect the CBC as one of a broad class.
Cash said that because his private interest is Dragon’s Den and not the CBC as a whole, this means he can participate in debate about the CBC in general but would not be able to participate in a discussion about, for example, axing the department that hosts the show. So far, he has not had to excuse himself from any debates or votes and said he doesn’t anticipate he will ever have to. “We haven’t had any issues about Dragon’s Den come up in the House of Commons or in committee,” he said.
Update 3:35pm. In a letter to the NDP MP, the ethics commissioner confirms that Mr. Cash has not done anything inappropriate.
Yesterday, in response to a request from my Office and further to recent media attention, you provided a list of the debates and votes in which you participated, both at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and in the House of Commons, that involved the CBC. These included five votes in Committee on main estimates, which included general CBC funding, one debate in Committee in which you questioned the President of the CBC about its five-year strategic plan and four instances in which you asked broad questions touching on the CBC in the House of Commons.
In light of my previous advice as well as my review of the information that you have provided, I can confirm that, to date, the matters in question in the debates and votes in which you have participated affect you as one of a broad class and, therefore, that you met your obligations under the Code in doing so.