Ethics watchdog examines request for investigation of Trudeau into data science payments


OTTAWA – The federal ethics oversight body is examining a request to investigate Prime Minister Justin Trudeau into payments his MPs’ offices made to a business owned by his friend.

Conservative MP Michael Barrett wrote to Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion asking him to launch an investigation into the Prime Minister’s possible involvement in awarding contracts to Data Sciences Inc.

The company was founded by Tom Pitfield, a childhood friend of Trudeau, who was the Liberal Party’s chief digital strategist during the 2015 and 2019 election campaigns.

The Globe and Mail reported last month that MPs’ expense reports showed most of the Liberal caucus had paid money through their office budgets to the company, which was also hired to provide services. digital to the Liberal Party of Canada.

Trudeau said caucus members use Data Sciences for their constituency work and he and the party both say there is a complete separation between political and parliamentary affairs.

In his letter to Dion, which Barrett shared on social media, he asked the commissioner to investigate Trudeau’s role in contracts to see if he had violated the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of Parliament.

He asked the watchdog to investigate the section where MPs are prohibited from acting in a way that promotes the interests of family members or another person or entity.

A request for comment from the Prime Minister’s Office was not immediately returned.

Dion responded in his own letter Wednesday that the criteria for making such a request have been met, and he passed it on to the prime minister.

A parliamentary committee recently debated whether to launch its own investigation into the matter, but nothing was decided after a five-hour meeting.

Meanwhile, Liberal MP and committee vice-chair Brenda Shanahan told members her office uses the Montreal-based company for technical support in both French and English.

She also called “bogus scandal” attempts by the Conservatives to hear Pitfield’s testimony and find out more about the work the company does for MPs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 14, 2021

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