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Ethics watchdog clears Morneau of accepting gift from WE Charity

Last Updated Oct 29, 2020 at 3:28 pm EST

Former minister of finance Bill Morneau listens to a question during a news conference in Ottawa on May 1, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The federal ethics watchdog has cleared former finance minister Bill Morneau of failing to disclose a gift from WE Charity.

Ethics commissioner Mario Dion accepts that Morneau “genuinely believed” he had paid for the entire cost of two trips he and family members took in 2017 to view WE’s humanitarian projects in Ecuador and Kenya.

As soon as Morneau became aware in August that WE had in fact covered $41,000 worth of expenses for the trips, Dion says he reimbursed the charity.

Because he immediately took “the appropriate corrective measures,” Dion concludes in a letter to Morneau that the former minister did not accept a gift from WE.

WE’s invitation to view the projects was intended to encourage Morneau’s wife to donate to the charity, but Dion accepts Morneau’s explanation that he was not involved in her subsequent choice to make two large donations through the family foundation.

Dion continues to investigate whether Morneau breached the Conflict of Interest Act by failing to recuse himself from the cabinet decision to pay the charity $43.5 million to manage a since-cancelled student grant program.