Greens Ask Ethics Commissioner to Investigate Harper’s Conflict of Interest in Labrador By-election

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May sent a letter Friday to Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson asking her to “undertake an examination, and issue a public ruling, with regard to Prime Minister Harper’s recent decisions and by-election call for the riding of Labrador.”

May is concerned that Mr. Harper’s actions have furthered “Peter Penashue’s private career interest in being re-elected in a way that violates the Conflict of Interest Act.”

“I have written to Ms. Dawson because there are too many questions surrounding the calling of the by-election. Why, for example, did Mr. Harper allow Mr. Penashue to make a $1.35 million spending announcement in his riding just four days before Mr. Penashue resigned his seat? Did Mr. Harper know Mr. Penashue would soon run again as a candidate?” asked Green Leader Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands.

May also wants to know if, by calling the by-election before prosecutors had decided whether to charge Mr. Penashue or others involved in his 2011 election campaign for violations of the Canada Elections Act, Mr. Harper was “essentially furthering Mr. Penashue’s private interests by not allowing voters in the riding to know whether independent investigators at Elections Canada and prosecutors have concluded that there is enough clear evidence of violations to prosecute.”

The federal Conflict of Interest Act prohibits public office holders like the Prime Minister from exercising “an official power, duty or function that provides an opportunity to further his or her private interests or those of his or her relatives or friends or to improperly further another person’s private interests” (Sections 4 and 6).