The ethics commissioner issued two more compliance orders yesterday concerning letters sent to the CRTC, this time by parliamentary secretaries Eve Adams and Colin Carrie. Both rulings come to the same conclusion.
It is improper for you to have written a letter of support to a tribunal in relation to its decision-making. Writing such a letter would be improper regardless of whether or not you explicitly identified yourself as a parliamentary secretary.
When Jim Flaherty wrote to the CRTC and was reprimanded by the ethics commissioner, the Finance Minister blamed the “oversight” that his ministerial title had been listed under his signature on the letter—essentially arguing that he was permitted to send such a letter so long as he didn’t explicitly identify himself as the finance minister in doing so.
The commissioner’s rulings on Ms. Adams and Mr. Carrie suggest to me that’s not the standard to be applied. I’ve asked the commissioner’s office for clarity and will pass along whatever I receive in response.
Update 11:44am. A note from the ethics commissioner’s office.
While the wording of the orders differs, the interpretation and application of the rules is the same. The Commissioner is of the view that the provision of the Conflict of Interest Act applies in these instances regardless of whether Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries use their titles or not.