OTTAWA – Health Minister Jane Philpott has been cleared of any ethics breach over her use of a driving service owned by one of her campaign volunteers.
Federal ethics commissioner Mary Dawson says in a report released Wednesday that she found no evidence to suggest Philpott used the Toronto-area service because the owner was a Liberal party member, a friend, or due to his involvement in her election campaign.
Dawson also says the company’s rates were not significantly different from those charged by other driving services.
The ethics watchdog’s report into whether the minister violated the Conflict of Interest Act by hiring the company says the reason Philpott used the service was simply because it was the only car service the minister could recall at that time.
Philpott came under fire last summer over revelations she spent $1,700 on one day for car service and more than $1,900 on another day.
Amid the uproar, Philpott announced in mid-August she would repay the cost of these trips, totalling just more than $3,700, saying they were “excessive costs” related to her work travel.
In her statement to Dawson, Philpott said she didn’t get heavily involved in making travel arrangements and left much of the planning to her staff.
Philpott told Dawson that she used the car service after the election and continued to use it because the company’s owner provided good, reliable service, “and he was discreet and not talkative.”
Philpott also said she felt safe and secure in the vehicle, Dawson’s report says.
In a statement, Philpott said she is pleased the matter is now concluded.