A Conservative senator has found himself in hot water after a ‘colourful rant’ surfaced on the Freedom Convoy. The Senate ethics watchdog later found Michael MacDonald ‘guilty’ of violating their code of conduct over the incident.
In February 2022, the senator chastised Ottawa residents for complaining about the convoy demonstrations against draconian COVID lockdowns. In a secretly filmed video, MacDonald described residents as ‘overpaid’ and ‘underworked.’
“It’s everybody’s f—ing city; this is the capital of the country. It’s not your goddamned city just because you have a six-figure salary and you work 20 hours a week,” he said.
“You haven’t worked a full week in two years. It’s sickening.”
On February 14, 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau controversially invoked the Emergencies Act to grant law enforcement extrajudicial powers to handle protests temporarily.
While the authorities froze the bank accounts of supporters, even those not physically present with the Ottawa convoy, most attendees had already dispersed before Trudeau invoked the Act.
MacDonald later apologized for his remarks last February in the Senate, which he supposedly made while under the influence of alcohol.
For the rant, Senate ethics officer Pierre Legault ruled MacDonald had breached six sections of the Senate code of conduct.
“Senators are expected to represent Canadians, not denigrate, mock and demean them while encouraging illegal activities when a state of emergency has been declared,” he penned in a report released Tuesday.
Legault claimed the senator’s request not to be filmed showed “an intentional failure to exercise dignified reserve and restraint” and that his actions caused “significant harm” to the Upper Chamber.
According to the report, MacDonald initially refused to comply with an internal investigation into the incident, citing he did not break any laws, act aggressively or misuse Senate resources.
“This is not an ethical issue,” the senator wrote, with his lawyer adding that the request violated his parliamentary privileges.
The senator took exception with Legault asking him whom he dined with before he made his comments. His lawyer called it “an insidiously coercive example of compelled speech.”
MacDonald also had reservations about keeping the investigation confidential and free of political interference. However, he later welcomed Legault‘s guidance on how to rectify the situation.
“His lack of cooperation was a flagrant disregard for the process outlined under the code, and the Senate has duly adopted that,” wrote Legault, adding the senator further undermined the code’s requirement to act “with dignity, honour and integrity.”
The officer is now recommending “sanctions of penalties by the Senate” against MacDonald, in addition to an apology to the senate chamber, the public and potential censure from his colleagues.
“His conduct in this respect was so egregious that there are no measures that would remedy the harm that his actions have caused to the office of senator and the institution of the Senate,” continued Legault.
The Upper Chamber’s conflict-of-interest committee will receive the report and may arrange hearings on the matter after the summer recess ends on September 19.