NCC CEO violated conflict rules, ethics commissioner says
Report says Mark Kristmanson accepted invitations from organizations that deal with NCC
National Capital Commission CEO Mark Kristmanson contravened conflict of interest rules when he accepted invitations from organizations that have business dealings with the NCC, the federal ethics commissioner said Wednesday.
On 12 occasions, Kristmanson accepted invitations that could "reasonably be seen to have been given to influence him in the exercise of his official powers, duties and functions," according to an investigation by Mario Dion.
According to the report, Kristmanson accepted invitations on behalf of himself and his wife from organizations and stakeholders that had "ongoing or foreseeable official business" with the NCC.
Among those groups were Place des Festivals, the National Arts Centre, the Canadian Museum of Nature, Via Rail and the Royal Canadian Geographic Society.
Receptions, concerts, ceremonies
The events included cocktail receptions, concerts and award ceremonies from 2014 to 2017.
The report said Kristmanson was personally involved in projects involving each of those groups, including the NAC's renovation project on Elgin Street, Via Rail's designs for the Ottawa Train Station and the geographic society's lease for 50 Sussex Dr.
I accept the findings fully and without reservation.- Mark Kristmanson, NCC CEO
The report said there was "no evidence" Kristmanson performed any official function at the events in question, so the invitations didn't qualify under an exception for gifts that are considered "normal expressions of courtesy."
In a statement, Kristmanson said he accepts the findings of the report and provided his version of events to the ethics commissioner.
"I accept the findings fully and without reservation, and regret any reputational impact this has caused the NCC or the government of Canada," he said in the statement.
CEO said he never discussed business
The ethics commissioner interviewed Kristmanson and received written submissions as part of the investigation. Kristmanson said he didn't talk about business with stakeholders at the events, according to the report.
Kirstmanson told the commissioner that in his view, invitations from other federal Crown corporations that fall under under Canadian Heritage, such as the NAC, the Museum of Nature and Via Rail, were acceptable because they all report to the same "shareholder" and have complementary mandates, the report said.
The ethics commissioner dismissed that defence, however.
"I see no distinction that can be drawn on the basis of the corporate status of the donor and see no reason to treat donors from federal public sector entities differently than private sector counterparts," Dion said in the report.
He said the crucial factor is how the gift may be seen to influence a decision by a public office holder — in this case, someone with the power to add items to the NCC agenda, make recommendations to the board or vote in favour of certain proposals.
In a statement, the NCC said the board also accepts the findings of the ethics commissioner's report, and will hold a special meeting to discuss the report.
Kristmanson was appointed in 2014. His term is coming to an end in the spring.