Manitoba

NDP MP Pat Martin calls for investigation into Vic Toews' lobbying

NDP MP Pat Martin has asked the federal conflict of interest and ethics commissioner to investigate Vic Toews, a former Tory cabinet minister and current Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench judge.
NDP MP Pat Martin is calling for a conflict of interest investigation into Vic Toews after suggestions were made the former Tory cabinet minister was involved in private lobbying activities after he left cabinet (CBC)
NDP MP Pat Martin has asked the federal conflict of interest and ethics commissioner to investigate Vic Toews, a former Tory cabinet minister and current Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench judge.

Martin was reacting to media reports that suggested Toews was involved in private lobbying activities after he left cabinet.

Martin said in the complaint that as minister for public safety, Toews "made major decisions about federal funding for disaster relief in the wake of flooding, and federal assistance for flood prevention measures. This raises the question of whether Mr. Toews had 'direct and significant dealings' with Peguis First Nation during his last year in office, and if so, whether he has since violated post-employment obligations under the Conflict of Interest Act."

In 2013, Toews was registered to act as a lobbyist for Alberta lawyer Jeffrey Rath, who represented the Peguis First Nation. Rath and Peguis are now involved in a legal dispute, and court documents show payments from a Peguis trust account totalling nearly $1 million were made to a numbered company controlled by Stacey Meek, Toews’ spouse.

In a statement, Rath says those documents are an error and should have listed a different company as the recipient of the payments.

Meek told the National Post that her company was paid less than $50,000 for work it did for Rath, and she did not do any work directly for Peguis.

Federal conflict of interest laws restrict activities of former cabinet ministers. It sets out rules about when and whether they can engage in private dealings with respect to matters they handled while in office.

Toews retired from politics in July, 2013 and was appointed to Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench in March, 2014.

Court officials said that as a sitting judge, Toews would not offer any comment on the story. Rath declined all further comments. Meek did not return phone messages.

The issue came up in question period in Ottawa Friday with Martin firing at the Conservatives.

"It's time to tighten up the post employment rules for ministers and their spouses that they can't exploit the time they spent in public office for personal and private gain," Martin said.

Paul Calandra, the parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, said: "This is a dispute between three individuals: none, of course, is the federal government."

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