The Liberal chair of the Commons natural resources committee yesterday was ordered to apologize for breach of the Conflict Of Interest Code. MP James Maloney (Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Ont.) was cited for failing to promptly disclose all personal assets that include shares in SNC Lavalin Group Inc. and various oil companies.
“I apologize for not fully completing all my disclosure obligations when I filed in January,” MP Maloney wrote in a statement. “It was not my intention to withhold any information.”
Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion ordered the MP to apologize to the Commons. “A Member’s protracted breach of their disclosure obligations cannot be viewed as trivial,” the Commissioner wrote in his Maloney Report.
The two-term Toronto MP, a lawyer, was required to file a Disclosure Statement sixty days after his re-election October 21, 2019. Maloney instead was the last of 338 MPs to file his statement this past September 14.
Records indicate Maloney owned shares in SNC Lavalin and forty-three other corporations including Apple, Alibaba Group Holdings, Bank of America, Bank of Nova Scotia, Berkshire Hathaway Class B, Canadian National Railway, Cenovus Energy, Citigroup, Enbridge, Facebook, Google, Manulife, Microsoft, Philip Morris International, Starbucks Corp and Suncor Energy.
“Throughout my 25-year career as a lawyer and my time as an MP I have always taken my ethical and disclosure obligations seriously,” wrote Maloney. “I understand and accept the Commissioner’s report.”
Commissioner Dion said his office repeatedly wrote Maloney to remind him of his duty to disclose investments and assets. Staff in the ethics office contacted Maloney fifteen times including letters and emails on November 13, January 16, January 22, January 24, January 27, February 7, February 19, February 26, March 18, April 27, May 21, June 1, June 9, June 25 and July 10.
“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 is the first by a federal ethics commissioner.
Former Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido (Steveston-Richmond East, B.C.) on October 19 told the Commons he was sorry for breaching the Conflict Of Interest Code after the House passed a motion ordering him to apologize. Peschisolido lost re-election last year after Global News reported Chinese investors used his law firm to channel funds into Canada.
“Members need to know there will be a reckoning if there is a breach of the Code,” Conservative MP Michael Barrett (Leeds-Grenville, Ont.), sponsor of the censure motion, earlier told the Commons. “We have seen a slow and steady degradation of the confidence Canadians can have in this democratic institution.”