Politics

Senate drops ethics inquiry into allegations against Colin Kenny

The upper house's ethics committee has agreed to halt a year-long inquiry into former Liberal senator Colin Kenny's alleged inappropriate use of Senate resources — and anything it has learned to this point will never be released publicly.

Year-long investigation ends with no public release of findings

The Senate ethics committee has called off an inquiry into Sen. Colin Kenny's alleged misuse of Senate resources. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)

The upper house's ethics committee has agreed to halt a year-long inquiry into former Liberal senator Colin Kenny's alleged inappropriate use of Senate resources — and anything it has learned to this point will never be released publicly.

According to the Senate's ethics code, any probe by the Senate ethics officer is dropped once the senator who is the subject of the probe resigns or retires. However, the Senate's ethics committee could request that the investigation be continued for posterity — something it has opted not to do in Kenny's case.

Kenny resigned in January, months before his mandatory retirement date and just before the ethics report was due to be released.

Members of ethics committee tabled a report Thursday detailing their decision not to proceed with the inquiry into allegations Kenny used his staff for personal purposes unrelated to Senate business.

"The matter inquired into by the Senate Ethics Officer is limited to the use of Senate resources by former Senator Kenny to determine whether he has not complied with his or her obligations under the [Senate's ethics] code," the committee wrote.

"This process does not raise broader concerns that would have warranted the committee instructing that the inquiry be continued.

"Former Sen. Kenny is no longer a member of the Senate. As such, the Senate can no longer impose sanctions upon him as a Senator. In the circumstances, the committee sees no compelling reasons to depart from the default rule that an inquiry be suspended when a Senator ceases to be a Senator."

A Radio-Canada/CBC News investigation in 2016 revealed Kenny used staff to perform personal tasks around his home and businesses, including booking fitness sessions and ordering lotions and tanning beds for his tanning business.

In May 2017, Lyse Ricard, the Senate ethics officer at the time, launched a preliminary review of Kenny's use of parliamentary resources.

Kenny has also faced complaints from outside of the Senate.

A former worker at his Ottawa tanning salon business claimed to Ottawa Police that Kenny sexually harassed her more than a decade ago, allegedly demanding sexual favours in exchange for letting her keep her job. The matter was dropped because the woman had lied to police in the past on another matter.

Other women who worked at Kenny's business came forward with similar stories after the initial Radio-Canada story on the case.

Unexpected resignation in the Senate

4 years ago
Duration 3:36
Liberal Sen. Colin Kenny has unexpectedly announced he will resign from his seat, 10 months before he hits the mandatory retirement age of 75. Reports say Kenny is citing poor health for his early retirement. Kenny has been the subject of harassment allegations and investigations in the past, and his resignation comes shortly after a call to reopen one of those investigations

With files from Brigitte Bureau

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