As some of you may have read recently, our ethics committee voted this week to decline to ask the Prime Minister to testify at our committee.
Here is my rationale:
The Commissioner’s report speaks for itself. She found that the Prime Minister contravened 4 sections of the Act, but did not find that he acted to further the private interest of the Aga Khan.
The Prime Minister immediately apologized, noted that his office would take precautionary measures going forward so this never happens again, and said the words: “I take full responsibility.”
On the question of whether the Prime Minister should appear, it’s important to keep in mind that he will be asked questions by opposition MPs in the House of Commons and by Canadians in town halls across the country. We have discussed previously the importance of ensuring that our committee focuses on substantive work (like improving the Act), and not re-litigating the same questions from QP.
We had the Commissioner before our committee today for two hours to ensure further transparency. She also said that her report speaks for itself and, when asked whether the Prime Minister should face further sanctions after apologizing and acting to ensure this doesn’t happen again, she said no.
It isn’t clear to me what inviting the Prime Minister to our committee would accomplish other than more piling on to embarrass him further. He made a mistake, that mistake has been well publicized, he has apologized, and our committee is now seized with studying and strengthening the rules.
For anyone who might suggest that this decision was dictated by the PMO or that we are told how to vote, here’s what I’ve said to the media: “They never do, and as you may know, I certainly wouldn’t listen to them.”
I look forward to our committee continuing its work when the House resumes sitting.