Liberal minister accused of landing $110 million contract for lobbyist, former client

‘I have received funds into my business that were cleared by the Ethics Commissioner that happened while I was a private citizen,’ testified Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault. ‘All of that information, all of those activities, were while I was a private citizen.’

Liberal minister accused of landing $110 million contract for lobbyist, former client
The Canadian Press / Justin Tang
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A Liberal member of Parliament is in hot water for collecting funds from an Alberta holding company while serving in cabinet. 

On Tuesday, Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault refused to say how much he had collected to date as a result, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

“I have received funds into my business that were cleared by the Ethics Commissioner that happened while I was a private citizen,” testified Boissonnault. “All of that information, all of those activities, were while I was a private citizen.”

Payments included fees collected on contracts with local authorities and the Department of Transport, learned the Commons human resources committee.

On April 30, Global News published how Boissonnault's lobbying connections helped him secure $110 million in federal grants for the Edmonton International Airport through a series of meetings with high-level political staff. 

MP Boissonnault holds shares in 2256956 Alberta Limited, a holding company called Global Health Imports Corporation, which sought pandemic supply contracts for local authorities. He also received income from 2050877 Alberta Limited operating under the name Navis, which would not have been evident without further investigation into his disclosures.

“Since you have been a minister have you received any payments from [the] Navis Group?” asked Conservative MP Michael Barrett. “Yes,” replied Boissonnault, who would not disclose the figure.

“You have a duty to arrange your private affairs in a manner that prevents a conflict of interest,” said Barrett. “But in this case, you arranged your private affairs in the manner of a $110 million federal grant to a federally regulated organization with federal representatives on its board.”

“That is a matter that took place while I was a private citizen,” the minister clarified.

“When I transitioned from being a private citizen to a public citizen I spoke numerous times to the team at the Office of the Ethics Commissioner,” he said. “Those funds are in the disclosure.”

Conservative MP Michael Cooper then questioned the propriety of a minister collecting income from a private numbered company with undisclosed holdings. “This goes to the heart of the integrity of this minister and his suitability to continue in his office,” said Cooper.

Liberal MP Robert Morrissey, chair of the committee, intervened after expressing unease with the questioning. “You know the rules of the House,” he told Conservative MPs. 

“The constant attack you have been displaying in questioning another member and remarks questioning another member’s integrity are not in order,” claimed Morrissey.

Conservative MPs earlier expressed frustration with Minister Boissannault, who previously flip-flopped on whether he benefited monetarily. “That is not true whatsoever,” he said.

“I had asked how much you had been paid and you said, ‘Well, none of that has happened since I was a minister,’” said MP Barrett. “There’s a bit of confusion here,” he added.

“How much have you been paid since you have been a minister by that company?” asked MP Barrett. “I have never used my position as a minister to help a lobbyist,” replied Boissannault. “Any suggestion like that is wrong.”

MP Morrissey again expressed unease with the line of questioning, which his colleague contends was “full of falsehoods.” 

“Minister, did you participate in funding announcements for this organization — from a company that you are still cashing checks from?” asked MP Barrett. “If there’s an announcement that’s happening in my province and I can go to it, I will go to it,” replied Boissannault.

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