A Liberal MP compelled to apologize to the Commons for an ethics breach described the lapse as a paperwork error. “Do not dare question my ethics or my integrity,” said MP James Maloney (Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Ont.), chair of the Commons natural resources committee.
“I apologized and I apologize unconditionally,” Maloney told the Commons: “If somebody deserves to be punished for handing something in late, I am guilty.”
Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion on November 19 ordered the MP to apologize to the Commons for breach of the Conflict Of Interest Code. Maloney had failed to promptly disclose all personal assets despite being asked fifteen times. “A Member’s protracted breach of their disclosure obligations cannot be viewed as trivial,” wrote the Commissioner.
“Not only did he delay completing his disclosure well beyond a reasonable time, he also failed to respond to communications from the Office for months,” wrote Commissioner Dion. The demand for a public apology was the first by a federal ethics commissioner. Ex-Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido (Steveston-Richmond East, B.C.) on October 19 complied with a House order that he write a letter of apology for breaching the Conflict Of Interest Code involving dealings through his law firm.
“Members who sit behind the government front bench feel they do not need to follow the rules,” said Conservative MP Michael Barrett (Leeds-Grenville, Ont.). “The top-down example is a complete disregard for the ethical rules of this place. It sows into the national conversation, into the public discourse, a distrust in our democratic institutions.”
“Canadians are rightly concerned,” said MP Barrett: “Show respect for Canadians and follow the rules of this place.”
All MPs must file a Disclosure Statement on assets within sixty days of their election. MP Maloney was the last Member of the House of Commons to file his statement September 14.
Records indicate Maloney has extensive stock holdings in forty-four corporations including SNC-Lavalin, Bank of America, Canadian National Railways, Google, Cenovus Energy, Philip Morris International, Starbucks and Suncor Energy.
“The Conservatives virtually since day one have been consistently trying to focus the House of Commons on the issue of corruption,” said Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North), parliamentary secretary to the Government House Leader. “It does not matter what issues Canadians are facing. For them it is all about looking under every little rock.”
“They are more concerned about the personalities than the policy,” said Lamoureux. “That is fine. They are the official opposition. They can set their agenda and have their agenda all they want.”