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Ethics czar erred in approving LeBlanc's use of Irving plane: Democracy Watch

OTTAWA — An organization that advocates for greater government accountability says Canada’s ethics watchdog should never have approved a flight taken by Liberal cabinet minister Dominic LeBlanc on a private aircraft owned by J.D. Irving.

LeBlanc’s office says the minister, who has been on medical leave since April, needed to attend a hospital in Montreal and was told by his doctors he could not travel commercially because he has a compromised immune system.

LeBlanc is being treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

He received pre-approval from Canada’s ethics commissioner to travel to the Montreal hospital from his home in New Brunswick on a private aircraft from J.D. Irving Ltd. — a company headed by a personal friend of LeBlanc’s who owns and is affiliated with companies involved in shipbuilding, oil, forestry and agriculture.

But Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, says ethics commissioner Mario Dion erred in his decision to approve this flight.

Conacher says LeBlanc should have instead chartered a private plane and paid for it himself, rather than accept a gift from the owner of a company that regularly lobbies the federal government.

The Canadian Press