An obvious question arises from Environment Minister Jim Prentice’s surprise announcement this afternoon that he’s leaving to join CIBC as vice-chairman: During the period when Prentice was in talks with bank about the job, did he recuse himself from federal cabinet talks on financial institutions issues?
I put the question to Prentice through a media spokesman, who provided this answer: “Jim Prentice has not participated in or had any discussions in cabinet or elsewhere in government pertaining to CIBC in particular or financial institutions in general since initially being contacted by the bank.”
Since Prentice was, up until this afternoon, chairing the cabinet’s powerful operations committee, where all sorts of government business has to be discussed, it seems surprising that absolutely nothing related to banking was on the agenda. I asked about that.
“It did not come up,” said Prentice’s spokesman. “We’re talking about a very short time period.”
Interesting. Sounds like a whirlwind courtship. I’ve asked how long ago CIBC approached Prentice, and will update this post if I hear back.
The same spokesman tells me Prentice was first approached by the CIBC about a month and a half ago. He talked to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Comissioner then for guidance on how to do his political job while negotiating with the bank.
On the point that absolutely nothing about financial institutions came up for cabinet consideration during those weeks, I note that Prentice was not on the Cabinet Committee on Economic Growth and Long-term Prosperity, so it’s possible something banking-related could have come up there and he just wasn’t in the room.