Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Feds' Ethics Watchdog Pick Won't Commit to Probes of Trudeau, Morneau

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Feds' Ethics Watchdog Pick Won't Commit to Probes of Trudeau, Morneau

Article excerpt

Ethics watchdog says he'd review probes

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OTTAWA - The Liberal government's nominee for federal ethics watchdog won't commit to completing ongoing investigations into the prime minister or finance minister if he gets the job.

But Mario Dion told the House of Commons ethics committee that if he is appointed, reviewing the files would be a top priority.

"One of the first things I would attend to (is) review the whole genesis of those investigations," Dion said.

"I would own the final result and therefore I have to assess what has been done to date to determine whether I am supportive of that, but abandoning an investigation completely without reason is not something I would do."

Outgoing conflict of interest and ethics commissioner Mary Dawson is currently looking into a trip Justin Trudeau took last Christmas to a private Bahamian island owned by the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims, billionaire philanthropist and family friend of Trudeau's.

She is also investigating Finance Minister Bill Morneau's involvement in new pension legislation that could benefit the company founded by his father and in which Morneau, until recently, still owned shares.

Both issues are hot political potatoes for the government. But there's no guarantee those reviews will be completed before Dawson leaves her post on Jan. 8 and, more troubling for Opposition parties, there's no requirement for her successor to do so.

During an hour-long committee hearing Tuesday hastily convened after the Liberals announced Dion as their nominee on Monday, both the NDP and the Conservatives pressed Dion on what he'd do with the files if he gets the job

Dawson is the first and only ethics commissioner the House of Commons known since the position was created in 2007. Her seven-year term was up in 2014, but has been extended several times.

While the search for her replacement has been underway for months, Dion said he didn't apply until August, as he had specific achievements he wanted to wrap up in his current position as chairman of the Immigration and Refugee Board. …

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