Canada’s Ethics Commissioner has found yet another Liberal in contravention of the Conflict of Interest Act.
Mario Dion revealed Tuesday that MP Greg Fergus wrote a letter of support for a television channel's application to the CRTC for mandatory carriage.
"Offers to provide training and educational sessions on a variety of topics have been offered to all federal parties and to regulatees, yet we continue to see a succession of mistakes that are largely attributable to the inability to recognize the need to seek consultation," said Commissioner Mario Dion.
The Ethics Commissioner is now recommending that all federal ministers and parliamentary secretaries report to his office for training in response to Tuesday’s shocking announcement.
Fergus, who represents the Quebec riding of Hull-Aylmer, is also parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Treasury Board President Mona Fortier, and he has served as head of the Liberal Black Caucus.
Under parliamentary rules, MPs can write letters of support to the CRTC in support of an application, but parliamentary secretaries and cabinet ministers cannot.
"Ministers and parliamentary secretaries are subject to both the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons in their role as parliamentarians, and to the Conflict of Interest Act in their role as government officials," said Dion. "That is because they wield more influence than backbench MPs.
"Being dual-hatted does not mean Fergus can circumvent the rules of the Act by simply wearing his MP hat to sign a letter of support to an administrative tribunal."
Fergus submitted the letter to the CRTC last year to encourage the required distribution of Natyf TV, which serves a multicultural francophone audience, as part of digital basic services.
The Canadian Press came across Fergus’s letter during a routine examination of filings with the CRTC last fall.