Tories pile on Morneau after Bank of Canada contract revelation

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(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)

By: Candice Malcolm

The pressure on Finance Minister Bill Morneau continues to mount following the Sun’s report that the minister’s family company, Morneau Shepell, has a multi-million-dollar business contract with the federal government.

Conservative Finance Critic Pierre Poilievre led off Question Period Friday with questions about the $8 million contract between Morneau Shepell and the Bank of Canada, uncovered exclusively by the Sun.

“Mr. Speaker, no one in Canada has more power to enrich the fortunes of an individual company than the finance minister,” said the Carleton MP. “The Bank of Canada, for which the finance minister is the only shareholder, gave lucrative renewed contracts to his company while he was minister.”

“Does the government, and the Prime Minister not see the obvious conflict of interest in all these actions?” asked Poilievre.

Morneau skipped Question Period on Friday, but the question was answered by his Parliamentary Secretary Joël Lightbound who insisted Morneau worked with the Ethics Commissioner and followed all of her recommendations.

Michelle Rempel, a former cabinet minister and popular conservative MP from Calgary, posted a live video of her reaction to the Sun report and her concerns about Morneau’s judgement.

“I just find it really strange and odd that somebody like Bill Morneau, who was going into the position of finance minister, wouldn’t have thought about the optics (and) the practical effects of not putting his shares into a blind trust,” said Rempel on Periscope.

“It just seems crazy to me,” she continued, “and really disappointing, especially given the changes that he is purporting to put in place regarding small business taxes.”

Morneau has been in hot water ever since it was revealed that he chose not to set up a blind trust to manage his assets in Morneau Shepell.

Instead, his assets were placed into a numbered company to comply with the guidelines of the Ethics Commissioner.

Rempel called it a loophole.

In the midst of calls for his resignation, Morneau addressed the issue on Thursday and announced his plans to finally divest all shares in Morneau Shepell.

Then came the Sun report that Bank of Canada has a relationship with Morneau Shepell, managing the pension and benefit plans for its employees.

A Bank of Canada spokesperson confirmed that the contract was renewed on February 27, 2017, under Morneau’s watch and while he was still a beneficiary of the company.

Canadians also learned that Morneau has been earning at least $65,000 per month from...(READ MORE)