Ottawa, June 22, 2018
Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion today reported on an examination under the Conflict of Interest Act of the conduct of a senior official with a federal Crown corporation who had allegedly hired a friend. The matter was raised in a complaint referred by the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner in October 2017.
Ms. Marie Chapman, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, was alleged to have improperly offered Ms. Jennifer Sutherland a contract for a term position with the Museum in 2014 and appointed her to a permanent position in 2015.
An examination was launched to determine if subsection 6(1) and section 21 of the Conflict of Interest Act had been contravened.
Subsection 6(1) prohibits public office holders from making or participating in making a decision related to the exercise of an official power, duty or function if they know or reasonably should know that, in the making of the decision, they would be in a conflict of interest.
Section 21 requires public office holders to recuse themselves from any discussion, decision, debate or vote on any matter in respect of which they would be in a conflict of interest.
Section 4 establishes that a public office holder is in a conflict of interest when he or she exercises an official power, duty or function that provides an opportunity to further his or her private interests or those of relatives or friends, or to improperly further another person's private interests.
"I determined that while Ms. Chapman and Ms. Sutherland have a friendly working relationship, they are not 'friends' for the purposes of section 4 of the Act. As a result, Ms. Chapman did not place herself in a conflict of interest by furthering the private interests of a friend," Commissioner Dion said. "Neither did she place herself in a conflict of interest by otherwise improperly furthering Ms. Sutherland's private interests, as there was nothing irregular or unusual about the manner in which the term and permanent positions were created, advertised and staffed."
As Ms. Chapman was not in a conflict of interest, Commissioner Dion determined that Ms. Chapman did not have a duty to recuse herself from any decisions related to Ms. Sutherland's employment with the Museum.
Consequently, Commissioner Dion found that Ms. Chapman did not contravene subsection 6(1) or section 21 of the Act.
The Chapman Report is available here.
The Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner was created under the Federal Accountability Act. The Commissioner administers the Conflict of Interest Act and the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons. These two regimes seek to prevent conflicts between the public duties of elected and appointed officials and private interests.
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