Martin bows out of CSL

Paul Martin has given up his interest in Canada Steamship Lines, transferring it to his sons.

Paul Martin has distanced himself from the family's shipping business. The Liberal leadership candidate announced Wednesday that his interest in Canada Steamship Lines has been formally transferred to his three sons.

The move is intended to head off allegations of conflict of interest should Martin become prime minister.

Martin promised last March to hand over control of CSL to his sons. At a brief news conference he announced, "I no longer have any interests in the company."

Martin originally argued he could both run the government and CSL, a company that's among the world's largest shipping firms.

Critics insisted he couldn't.

They argued shipping is so tightly regulated by the federal government that Martin would be in constant conflict.

Martin said CSL will continue to report its activities to the federal ethics commissioner to ensure there are no conflicts. And he will recuse himself from government decisions involving maritime transportation.

The man expected to become the next leader of the Liberal party was less forthcoming about the value of CSL, or the pension he will continue to receive from the company.

In a statement filed with the ethics counsellor, Martin's law firm noted the share transfer was structured so that it does not give rise to any taxes.

Officials in Martin's leadership campaign say that it is a common practice that defers the taxes to be paid until a later date.

It also prevents the public from estimating how much the family-owned company is worth.