It's time for Bill Morneau to step down

Two & Out
By James Peters
November 3, 2017 - 2:53pm

KAMLOOPS — One of the many, many reasons there was good cause to fear the election of Donald Trump was that Trump would simply use the office of president to enrich himself and his family.

Trump is nothing if not obsessed with money and showing he has money, and giving him the reins of power would only give him another platform for self-promotion.

Sure enough, a Washington Post story not long ago described just one example: how Trump's hotel in Washington has become an extension of the meeting space at the White House.

In Canada, we've elected another wealthy person who seems to be intent on using the government for self-enrichment.

Or at least, Bill Morneau isn't too worried about it looking that way.

Morneau is a rookie MP who was quickly made Minister of Finance by newly-elected Prime Minister Trudeau in 2015.

He had made a fortune in the family business, with his stock holdings alone estimated to be worth about $40 million.

Normally in Canada, someone entering public life will place assets into a blind trust to prevent conflict of interest - especially someone like the Finance Minister who has considerable powers, including power that could theoretically be used to build his bank account.

The ethics commissioner told Morneau it was okay, though, because his assets are held through a numbered company.

That's a very technical interpretation of "conflict of interest," one that could be way too easy to circumvent.

It was later revealed that at least three other cabinet ministers have similar arrangements.

Two things need to happen here.

First, Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson needs to interpret her position with an eye toward what gives Canadians the most confidence, not toward what gives government officials the most cover.

Second, Morneau needs to step down.

His choice to stubbornly cling to control over his wealth does not tell Canadians that he is in this for them, and it doesn't tell Canadians that this government will aspire to the highest ethical standards, as the Liberals had said.

After years of scandal in the Senate, Canadians don't need anymore worries about their representatives taking advantage of the system for their own personal gain.