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Former finance minister Bill Morneau broke elections law ahead of last campaign

Last Updated Sep 10, 2020 at 10:54 am EDT

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau announces his resignation during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. Canada's election watchdog says former finance minister Bill Morneau broke the law when he promoted Liberal candidates at events he attended while in charge of the finance portfolio. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA — Canada’s election watchdog says former finance minister Bill Morneau broke the law when he promoted Liberal candidates at events he attended while in charge of the finance portfolio.

The commissioner of Canada elections says before the last federal election, Morneau pumped up two prospective candidates who were attending separate events he headlined as finance minister.

One candidate, Anita Anand, has since gone on to become a cabinet minister herself.

Ministers aren’t allowed to use taxpayer funds for partisan gain, but there are also provisions in election law that bar anyone but individuals from donating to campaigns.

That’s the provision the commissioner says Morneau violated when he promoted the candidates, as government resources were used to the benefit of the Liberal party.

The commissioner says there is no indication Morneau had intended to use public resources for partisan purposes or that he was involved personally in planning the events in question.

Morneau’s riding association has now paid back the costs of the two events, and Morneau himself has been fined $300.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 10, 2020.

The Canadian Press