Bill Morneau requests meeting with ethics watchdog amid controversy
Finance Minister Bill Morneau says he wants to sit down with the federal ethics commissioner to discuss the status of his personal assets after a firestorm of controversy erupted over the weekend.
In a letter tabled in the House of Commons early on Tuesday afternoon, Morneau requested the meeting with Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson, saying that he is “willing to seek further guidance in this matter.”
“Over the last two years my family and I have placed our trust in you, and we have the utmost confidence in the recommendations you put forward. I have taken great care to follow them diligently,” Morneau wrote.
But those same recommendations have recently “been the subject of increased public scrutiny,” he adds.
“I would ask that we meet again to discuss the guidance you have provided and the assets, holdings and disclosures I have.”
It’s not clear when a meeting might take place.
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Morneau’s personal holdings, in particular his shares in his former company Morneau Shepell, have been the subject of increased attention since it was revealed he had not placed them in a blind trust after taking office in 2015.
Neither Morneau or Dawson have disclosed where the shares are currently held, and who controls them.
Morneau’s letter states that if Dawson does suggest he move his assets into a blind trust, “I would be pleased and eager to move forward on any revised recommendations you might provide.”
Dawson, speaking publicly about the matter for the first time on Tuesday, clarified that she told Morneau that that under the current law, it wasn’t necessary to utilize a blind trust.
At the time of the 2015 election, the minister owned 2.07 million common shares in Morneau Shepell, a company founded by his father. Those shares could be worth close to $45 million today.