Inside Politics

Paradis cleared over 2009 weekend at lodge owned by former Nordiques owner

More than a year and a half after she launched an investigation into then-Public Works Minister Christian Paradis' controversial 2009 weekend stay at a hunting lodge owned by former Quebec Nordiques owner Marcel Aubet, Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson has concluded that no rules were broken:

The examination revealed that in the summer and fall of 2009, Mr. Aubut was involved in efforts to see a new arena built in Québec City, but there was no evidence that he was lobbying the federal government or otherwise seeking federal funding. There was also no evidence that the federal government was involved in any discussions or decision-making processes with respect to a Québec City arena, or that Mr. Paradis had any official powers, duties or functions with respect to the idea of building an arena during this period. Any future federal role regarding the possible construction of a new arena had not been defined during the time period under examination.

Commissioner Dawson examined the matter in light of sections 5 and 11 of the Act.

Section 5 requires public office holders to arrange their private affairs in a manner that will prevent them from being in a conflict of interest. Given that Mr. Paradis did not have an existing or foreseeable official power, duty or function with respect to the building of a new arena in Québec City, Commissioner Dawson found that he did not contravene section 5.

Section 11 prohibits public office holders from accepting a gift or other advantage that could reasonably be seen to have been given to influence them in the exercise of an official power, duty or function. While Commissioner Dawson found that the stay at the hunting lodge was a gift or other advantage, she found that any link between the invitation to participate in the hunting trip and the possibility that Mr. Paradis might play a role in any potential federal decision as to whether to contribute financially to the construction of a new arena in Québec City was too remote to conclude that the invitation might reasonably be seen to have been given to influence Mr. Paradis. Therefore, she found that he did not contravene section 11.

Read the full report here.

According to the accompanying news release, Dawson's investigation was "prompted" by a March 2012 letter of request from Liberal MPs Scott Andrews and Marc Garneau.

That complaint was filed just days after Dawson found that Paradis had breached the Conflict of Interest Act "providing special treatment to Mr. Rahim Jaffer, a former caucus colleague, and his company, Green Power Generation, when he directed his staff to arrange a meeting between that company and departmental officials."

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