Canadian Ethics Chief Bans Top Officials From Dealing With Ex-Envoy To US - Statement

TORONTO (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 17th September, 2020) Several top Canadian officials, including Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, are barred from official dealings with the country's former ambassador to the United States after he was found in violation of ethics laws, Commissioner Mario Dion's office said on Wednesday.

"Commissioner Dion issued an order... to nine regulatees to restrict their official dealings with former reporting public office holder and ambassador David MacNaughton," the office said in a statement. "This order is listed under the name of each of these individuals in the public registry and will remain in place for one year."

MacNaughton, the release added, arranged meetings with senior officials from the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on behalf of his new employer - Palantir Technologies Canada - less than a year after leaving public office in violation of conflict of interest laws.

This order applies to Freeland, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains, Canadian Armed Forces Chief of Defense Staff General Jonathan Vance and officials from the Prime Minister's Office, Department of National Defense and other government departments.

MacNaughton met with officials 17 times between the start of March and early April to discuss the government's response to COVID-19 and the services Palantir could provide, on a pro bono basis, according to the ruling. The ex-envoy spoke with Freeland three times in the span of a week beginning on March 5 to discuss the deadly pandemic and "what Palantir was doing to help other governments."

The ruling is another blow to the Trudeau government following a summer where the ethics commissioner launched multiple investigations related to the WE Charity scandal and a senior member of cabinet was found to have unlawfully interfered in court business.

According to independent media outlet Blacklock's Reporter, Federal Court of Appeal Justice Marc Noel flagged Attorney General David Lametti's actions after striking down a bill introduced amid the pandemic to freeze civil proceedings.

Additionally, Trudeau and his former Finance Minister Bill Morneau are also subject of a conflict of interest probe by Dion into their relationship with the WE Charity - the third during their five years in office - after the charity was handed a $670-million sole-source contract to administer a government-sponsored student volunteer program despite close ties between the officials' families and the organization.

Concurrently, there are a number of parliamentary investigations concerning the awarding of the multi-million-dollar government contract that have been halted after Trudeau shut down Parliament until the end of September.