Inside Politics

Committee Liveblog: Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson at Procedure and House Affairs

As noted in Orders of the Day, earlier today, Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson dropped by the Hill to share her thoughts on the MPs' conflict of interest code, which is currently under review at Procedure and House Affairs.

Among her recommendations: more wide-ranging recusal requirements related to the potential furthering of private interests, more rigorous reporting requirements, including requiring MPs to publicly disclose all gifts over $30 in value -- as opposed to the current threshold of $500 -- and expanding the existing disclosure requirements to cover any event "at which food and beverages will be served."

Yes, it appears that, after four years on the job, someone finally let the ethics commissioner in on the existence of the Hill reception circuit, and now she wants to know more about just who is footing the bill for the cheese plates and wine stations, and what they may be hoping to get out of doing so. 

Not surprisingly, members were unanimous in their lack of enthusiasm over the prospect of opening their social calendars to further public scrutiny, although they did seem willing to consider a compromise: namely, putting the onus on event organizers -- generally, but not exclusively, industry associations and other lobby groups -- to keep the ethics commissioner in the loop.

Dawson also seemed willing to consider differentiating between events open to all MPs, and more exclusive affairs for which invitations are offered to a select few.

In any case, due to a timing conflict, I wasn't able to catch Dawson's opening statement, but I caught up with the meeting a few minutes late. For those who missed my impromptu twitter coverage of her appearance, here's how it all went down.
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