On February 14th, Mario Dion, the Federal Ethics Commissioner, announced his retirement due to “persistent health issues.” On the same day, he published a report on Liberal MP Greg Fergus, finding him in breach of the Conflict of Interest Act. Dion expressed his hope that he has contributed to transparency and accountability in Canadian democracy before stepping down on February 21st after 43 years of public service.
The Conflict of Interest Act applies to public office holders such as ministers, ministerial staff, cabinet appointees, and heads of Crown corporations. Dion praised the seriousness of the regulatees, but was critical when issuing his report on Fergus, saying he has seen many senior officials unaware of their obligations and mistakenly making assumptions. He recommended that the government make his office’s training mandatory.
Fergus was found in breach for writing a letter to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to support the application of Natyf Inc. for a broadcasting license. He apologized for his “unintentional error” and promised to redouble his efforts to meet his obligations.
Dion has also found other Liberal government ministers in breach of the Conflict of Interest Act, such as Dominic Leblanc in 2018, Justin Trudeau in 2019, Bill Morneau in 2021, and Mary Ng in December 2022.