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Trying to Tame Conflict of Interest

If there’s one thing this government needs, it is unbiased external review of their many conflicts of interests.

I spoke to Bill C-20 Public Complaints and Review Commission Act.

If there one thing this government needs, it is a mechanism for unbiased outsiders to review their ongoing struggles with conflicts of interest, lack of transparency, and frequent challenges in providing truthful explanations. This government has worked for nine years to undermine the trust of the people. Legislation may not be able to fix that flaw, but it is a step.

It is notable, however, that this legislation has been in process for literally years, never making forward progress. Establishing oversight is not a priority for a government that thrives in its absence.

The Auditor General recently spoke about conflict of interest, particularly with respect to Sustainable Development Technology Canada (the “green slush fund”) and how many of its directors appointed by the current government have put themselves in a position of conflict of interest. Clearly there is a misunderstanding among the government and its friends about how it has to report its interests – its financial interest in the SDTC case. However, interests are interests. We have to make sure that they are balanced appropriately.

The Conservative Party is putting forward a motion demanding that documents related to SDTC spending be released and reviewed, to examine the $123 million the Auditor General says was spent inappropriately.

  • The Auditor General found the SDTC:
    • Did not follow conflict of interest policies in 90 cases.
    • Spent nearly $76 million on projects connected to the Liberals’ friends appointed to run the SDTC.  
    • Spent $59 million on projects that were not allowed to have been awarded any money.
    • Spent $12 million on projects that were in both a conflict of interest and ineligible for funding.
    • In one instance, Trudeau’s handpicked SDTC chair, Annette Verschuren, siphoned off $217,000 to her own company.
    • Placed much of the blame on Industry Minister Francois-Phillipe Champagne, who “did not sufficiently monitor” the contracts that were given to Liberal insiders.

This bill is about trust, and the balance of power. This government needs to get back to the basics of understanding what a conflict of interest is.

Related Information

Read the official Transcript of Greg’s speech in Hansard

Consult Bill C-20 Public Complaints and Review Commission Act

Sustainable Development Technology Canada

Review the Auditor General Report on Sustainable Development Technology Canada