Motion on Conflict of Interest in Gov’t Pandemic Spending

In Committee from the House of Commons

Motion on Conflict of Interest in Gov’t Pandemic Spending

Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics – November 3, 2020:

Filibustering by Liberal MPs continues as the committee debates a motion from NDP MP Charlie Angus concerning conflicts of interest in relation to government pandemic spending.

Some of the issues the committee might investigate: a multimillion-dollar contract awarded to former Liberal MP Frank Baylis for the procurement of ventilators; the awarding of a contract to administer the government’s commercial rent relief program to a company with ties to Katie Telford, the prime minister’s chief of staff; and Canada’s former ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton’s lobbying efforts on behalf of Palantir Technologies Canada.

Telford’s spouse, Rob Silver, is a senior executive at MCAP, the private mortgage company that was subcontracted to deliver the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), a federal crown corporation, subcontracted the commercial rent relief program to MCAP.

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion ruled that MacNaughton broke lobbying rules when he arranged multiple meetings earlier this year between senior government officials, ministers and Palantir Technologies Canada. MacNaughton was appointed president of the data-analytics company in August 2019, shortly before he stepped down as ambassador at the end of that month. He arranged meetings to offer pro bono help on behalf of Palantir to assist the federal government in its COVID-19 response. Dion has ordered nine officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance, to have no official dealings with MacNaughton for one year.