Ethics czar raps LeBlanc over licence conflict
Relative worked for firm given surf-clam licence
• Canada’s federal ethics watchdog ruled Wednesday that Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc violated the conflict of interest act when he approved an Arctic surf clam licence to a company employing a family member.
Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion said in a report that LeBlanc knew his wife’s first cousin was involved in the Five Nations Clam Co. when he awarded it a multimillion-dollar licence in February. LeBlanc should have recused himself from the decision, since it provided an opportunity to further the interests of his spouse’s cousin, Gilles Theriault, Dion said in his ruling.
“If a public office holder is aware of a potential opportunity to further the private interests of a relative through the exercise of an official power, duty or function, the public office holder must be
THE PUBLIC OFFICE HOLDER MUST BE VIGILANT IN AVOIDING SUCH CONFLICTS OF INTEREST.
vigilant in avoiding such conflicts of interest,” he said.
The deal, which would have ended a 19-year monopoly on the Arctic clam fishery held by Clearwater Seafoods, was supposed to offer 25 per cent of the catch to local Indigenous communities to help promote reconciliation and economic growth.
But it came under scrutiny after court documents suggested the company did not meet the federal government’s initial eligibility requirements, and that the company had close ties to the federal Liberals — including the family ties to LeBlanc.
Dion said he decided on his own to launch an investigation into the deal after he became aware of the family connection involving Leblanc and the company.
LeBlanc was shuffled out as fisheries minister in July, the same month the government decided to cancel the licence and start over.