Minister of Finance Bill Morneau announces his resignation during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. Canada’s election watchdog says former finance minister Bill Morneau broke the law when he promoted Liberal candidates at events he attended while in charge of the finance portfolio. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau announces his resignation during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. Canada’s election watchdog says former finance minister Bill Morneau broke the law when he promoted Liberal candidates at events he attended while in charge of the finance portfolio. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Former finance minister Bill Morneau broke election law in 2019: commissioner

The commissioner of Canada elections says before the 2019 federal election, Morneau pumped up two prospective Liberal candidates

Canada’s election watchdog says former finance minister Bill Morneau broke the law when he promoted Liberal candidates at events he attended while in charge of the finance portfolio.

The commissioner of Canada elections says before the 2019 federal election, Morneau pumped up two prospective Liberal candidates who were attending separate events he headlined as finance minister.

“Introducing and promoting prospective (Liberal Party of Canada) candidates at the events, promoted the LPC’s electoral prospects in these electoral districts,” commissioner Yves Cote wrote in his report, published Thursday.

“This caused the expenses related to these events to benefit the LPC.”

That, Cote concluded, broke a section of the Elections Act that prohibits anyone but individuals from donating to political parties: the government, which footed the bill for the events, is not an individual.

He noted also that ministers are not to use taxpayer funds for partisan gain.

One candidate who appeared with Morneau, Anita Anand, has since gone on to become the federal procurement minister.

She attended multiple events with Morneau on July 29, 2019, including a meeting at the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, where he gave a speech, and a subsequent roundtable, a tour of a clothing factory and a meeting with leaders of the Muslim community. All of the events were promoted by the Finance Department.

The commissioner said Morneau singled Anand out in his speech, remarking on her accomplishments and saying “when such a person steps forward for public life — with significant accomplishments in their private-sector life — I think it’s important that we, we support them and encourage them.”

The commissioner said the comments “provided a partisan benefit to Ms. Anand and to the LPC’s prospect in the electoral district of Oakville.”

A similar occurrence took place in August 2019, when Michele Fisher, the candidate for the nearby riding of Dufferin-Caledon, accompanied Morneau on a tour in the riding, and Morneau posted pictures of her on his social media accounts.

The commissioner said Morneau and his office co-operated fully with the investigation.

“There is no indication that Mr. Morneau intended to use public resources for directly partisan purposes. Nor is there any indication that Mr. Morneau personally participated in planning any of the tours in question,” Cote wrote.

The costs of the events was pegged at $1,661, which Morneau’s riding association has paid back. Morneau himself must also pay $300 within the next 30 days, and must also publish the notice of the violations on his social media accounts.

Morneau could not immediately be reached for comment.

Morneau resigned as finance minister and an MP in August, mired in a controversy about the government’s decision to award a multi-million contract to the WE organization to run a student program, and amid reports of tension between him and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over pandemic recovery plans.

He said he never intended to run for a third term as an MP and was leaving to run for secretary-general of an international economic co-operation body.

Throughout his political career, which began with his election in 2015, Morneau repeatedly came under scrutiny for appearing to cross the lines between his role as an MP and cabinet minister and personal or partisan matters.

Among other things, he’s been twice investigated by the ethics commissioner for matters related to his family human-resources business, once for selling shares ahead of an income tax increase and once for introducing pension-law changes that could have benefited the company. He was cleared both times.

The current ethics investigation is probing his ties to WE Charity in the context of the government’s decision to have it run the Canada Student Service Grant program.

One of Morneau’s children works for an arm of the organization, and Morneau revealed during committee hearings he took trips sponsored by WE, money that he has since paid back.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The RCMP are reminding drivers to find alternative ways home if they have consumed anything that impairs their ability to drive. (Black Press file photo)
Impaired Ladysmith driver flees road check twice on the same night

The officer issued the driver numerous violation tickets, and a four-month driving suspension

Rod Alsop and the LSS band had a great day holding class outdoors at Transfer Beach. (Cole Schisler photo)
Ladysmith Secondary School band takes class outside to mark the end of academic quarter

The band took advantage of a sunny January day to play outside

Jessica Lowry created a series of videos to engage Ladysmith Intermediate School students in mindfulness. (Submitted photo)
Ladysmith Intermediate teams up with local artist to introduce students to mindfulness

Ladysmith artist Jessica Lowry created a series of 36 videos to help students practice mindfulness

Luke Marston works on the seawolf mask for Canucks goalie Braden Holtby. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
Stz’uminus artist Luke Marston designs new mask for Canucks goalie

The mask features artwork inspired by the Coast Salish legend of the sea wolf

Scott Saywell, Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ superintendent and CEO, has seen his contract renewed for four years, the district announced Wednesday. (SD68 YouTube screenshot)
Ladysmith school district renews superintendent’s contract for four years

‘Singing superintendent’ Scott Saywell under contract through 2024-25 school year

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
One in five tests in Fernie area coming back positive: doctor

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
From the “You can’t make this stuff up” file – stories from the BC CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at a fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. Mowi Canada has applied to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of the decision by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to phase out salmon farming in the Discovery Islands by June, 2022. (Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward photo)
Major B.C. salmon farms seek court intervention in Discovery Islands ban

Fisheries minister is phasing out operations in the area by June 2022

(Black Press Media files)
Woman steals bottles of wine after brandishing stun baton in New Westminster

Police say the female suspect was wearing a beige trench coat with fur lining

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canadian malls, conference centres, hotels offer up space for COVID vaccination centres

Commercial real estate association REALPAC said that a similar initiative was seeing success in the U.K.

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden are sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington

Most Read