Ethics commissioner clears Christian Paradis for overnight stay at hunting lodge

OTTAWA – The federal ethics watchdog has cleared Christian Paradis for his two-night stay at the hunting lodge of a Quebec businessman who was lobbying Ottawa to help fund a new hockey arena.

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson released a report today clearing Paradis of any wrongdoing for his 2009 stay with Marcel Aubut.

Aubut is the former owner of the Quebec Nordiques hockey team and was lobbying the federal government for help funding a new $400-million arena for Quebec City to assist in efforts to bring an NHL franchise back to the city.

But Dawson says Paradis — who was industry minister at the time — didn’t violate one section of the Conflict of Interest Act because he lacked any power to get the arena project off the ground.

And while Dawson found Paradis did accept a gift by staying at the lodge, she says the link between the stay and any funding for a new arena was “too remote” to have violated another section of the Act.

Paradis previously had his knuckles rapped by Dawson when, as public works minister, he directed his officials to set up special meetings in 2009 with former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer to discuss a private project.

Dawson found Jaffer and his company were treated more favourably than other businessmen in a similar situation.