‘It was improper’

Ethics commissioner weighs in on Jim Flaherty’s letter to the CRTC

by Aaron Wherry

A note from the ethics commissioner’s office about Jim Flaherty’s letter to the CRTC.

After looking into the matter of Minister Jim Flaherty’s letter of support on behalf of a business in his constituency, Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson issued a compliance order late yesterday afternoon to the Minister under section 30 of the Conflict of Interest Act.

In the order, she notes that it was improper for Mr. Flaherty, as a minister, to have written a letter of support to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on behalf of a radio station in his constituency seeking a broadcasting licence from the CRTC. The order directs Mr. Flaherty to refrain from writing similar letters in the future without seeking approval from her office.

While ministers are not precluded from representing their constituents in their capacity as Members of Parliament, they are prohibited, under section 9 of the Act, from using their positions as public office holders to seek to influence decision making so as to improperly further the private interests of another person.

As the facts are clear and an order has been made, the Commissioner will not be launching an investigation.

Under section 30 of the Conflict of Interest Act, the Commissioner may order a public office holder to take any compliance measure that the Commissioner determines is necessary to comply with the Act. Compliance orders are posted in the public registry under the Act.

Kady O’Malley has the talking points from the Prime Minister’s Office.




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‘It was improper’

  1. What is really disgusting is the PMO’s statement: “The PMO said on Thursday it stands by its position that politicians are not involved in CRTC decisions.” Talk about convulation. Let’s take a statement that is true and try and make it sound like there is a defense for interference by a Cabinet Minister. Not only did the rules governing Ministers apply here, so did the rules governing MP’s.

    • “I fully maintain that is against the rules of professional sport to take performance enhancing substances” – Lance Armstrong.

  2. Can you feel the envelope stretching? Just imagine how much further it will stretch in the future – no matter which party is in power?

    The Conservatives promised a new style of government with full transparency and accountability. Is this what you voted for?

    • Are you serious? The whole bloody thing has been completely transparent. You’ve seen the letter, you know who sent it, and you know who he sent it to. The EC publicly commented on it, and has made clear what the result it. Flahrety’s been held accountable.

      I know you’re disappointed that they’re not tar and feathering him, but please, enough with the faux outrage.

      • but as Griffin points out below

        “The PMO said on Thursday it stands by its position that politicians are not involved in CRTC decisions.”

        Alternative universe where reality is what the PMO says it is. Blatant lying even though some of Harper’s biggest shills admit that he was caught doing wrong. Who will be held accountable for this particular transparent and accountable peace of cr*p?

      • Didn’t Ministers have to step down over such matters in previous governments? Now it appears OK to shrug and move on…

        • Did they? Can you provide an example? I’m genuinely curious. I just can’t imagine a Minister resigning his portfolio due to an ethical breach that didn’t result in any policy change, and that the ethics commissioner didn’t deem punishable.

          • David Collenette resigned for writing a letter on behalf of a constituent to the IRRB, and Michel Dupuy was shuffled out of cabinet for writing a letter on behalf of a constituent to, wait for it, the CRTC (link).

            Two points of irony.

            One: Unlike Flaherty, who’s letter advocated a POSITIVE decision from the CRTC (“I support their proposal and their application”), Collenette and Dupuy merely asked for the bodies in question to give the applications their “best attention” and a “fair hearing” respectively.

            Two: The bouncing of Collenette and Dupuy from cabinet for the letters they wrote to those two bodies was actually cited by none other than Diane Ablonczy when she was calling for Diane Finley to resign. According to Ablonczy, the turfing of those two Liberal cabinet ministers (over letters that were less pointed than Flaherty’s was) were “examples of what used to be a reasonable standard of ethics, even for Liberals.”

            That’s gotta hurt.

      • Flahrety’s been held accountable

        He sure has! He broke the rules, and the Commissioner wrote a stern letter ORDERING him not to break the rules again in the future.

  3. I am sure the radio station was willing to make their listeners cry for Holocaust 24/7 or minister would not go out of his way to favor the radio station.

  4. Ethics Commissioner: “No one is to throw another stone until I say so, even if they do say Jehovah!”

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