Tories attack Morneau with allegations over 2015 sale of Morneau Shepell shares

The Conservatives have opened up a new line of attack against Bill Morneau, accusing the embattled finance minister of selling off stock the week before a policy announcement drove their value down by half a million dollars.

Minister's office calls Conservative insinuations 'utterly false,' as NDP asks ethics watchdog to investigate

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre, left, opened a new line of attack on Finance Minister Bill Morneau in the House of Commons Monday over the sale of Morneau Schepell shares in 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The Conservatives have opened up a new line of attack against Bill Morneau, accusing the embattled finance minister of selling off stock the week before a policy announcement drove their value down by half a million dollars.

Inside the House of Commons today, Tory MPs peppered Morneau with questions about the timing of the sale of $10 million worth of shares in his family-founded human resources firm, Morneau Shepell.

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre says a motion introduced by Morneau in December 2015 to raise income taxes on the highest earners caused the entire stock market to drop — including Morneau Shepell's share price.

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre asks whether Finance Minister Bill Morneau sold shares in his family company before introducing legislation that lowered stock prices two years ago. 2:45

Poilievre asked Morneau repeatedly throughout question period if it was merely a coincidence that the 680,000 shares were sold off a week before the announcement.

Morneau largely avoided the queries, insisting he had absolutely nothing to hide.

A spokesman for Morneau later called Poilievre's insinuations "utterly false" and "absurd" — and challenged the Tories to make the accusations outside the House of Commons, where members are not protected by parliamentary privilege.

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre discusses his questions for Finance Minister Bill Morneau during Question period, and the lack of meaningful answers from the minister. 1:54

The NDP's ethics critic, Nathan Cullen, has written a letter to Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson, requesting she investigate this matter. 

"If the finance minister used his inside knowledge to sell his shares at an advantageous time to financially profit, it would be in direct violation of the rules that prevent someone from profiting directly from their work in government," Cullen wrote in a letter that was sent Monday afternoon.

"I respectfully ask that you look into this matter as urgently as possible," the letter says.

The Ethics Commissioner is already investigating Morneau about whether he was in a conflict of interest when he sponsored a bill related to pension reform.

Morneau still owned shares in his family business, Morneau Shepell, a benefits and pension services firm, at the time the bill was introduced.

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with files from CBC's Katie Simpson

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