The federal Ethics Commissioner has opened an investigation into the conduct of International Trade Minister Mary Ng in relation to a contract awarded to a company co-founded by a Liberal strategist.
Tory MP James Bezan had asked Commissioner Mario Dion to review the contract given to the firm Pomp and Circumstance by Ng’s office for media training in the spring of 2020. Both Ng and his former director of communications received the training , according to information provided by the government.
The contract itself was only worth around $17,000, but conservatives said the deal raised questions about whether any conflict-of-interest rules were breached because Amanda Alvaro, one of the co-founders of company, would be Ng’s friend.
Conservatives are pointing to a tweet Alvaro posted in July 2018, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shuffled his cabinet and promoted Ng to his inner circle. In her tweet, Alvaro shared a photo of herself with her arm around Ng, saying she was celebrating her “dear friend”.
Neither Alvaro nor his company immediately responded to a request for comment on Monday.
In his initial request for investigation, Bezan pointed to several sections of the Conflict of Interest Act, which he said Dion could investigate to see if any rules had been broken.
In a response letter sent Monday, Dion says he will review the matter to see if Ng put himself in a conflict of interest, used any influence to advance someone’s private interests and recused himself. of the decision. He also said he informed Ng.
A spokeswoman for Ng said the minister “has always rigorously followed all the rules” and that contracts are reviewed to ensure compliance with procurement protocols.
“Various contractors provided media training that was essential to help the Minister and members of her communications team inform Canadian small businesses, workers and families of the supports available to them at the height of the pandemic,” said wrote Alice Hansen in a statement to The Canadian Press.
@mary_ng under #ethics is investigating a contract with a company co-founded by a liberal strategist. #CDNPoli
“Minister Ng has not made the decision on this contract,” Hansen added.
Dion wrote that while he will be investigating Ng for possible violations under several sections of federal conflict of interest law, he does not believe Alvaro’s company received preferential treatment because ‘a similar contract was awarded to another company.
“Another company with no known personal connection to Ms. Ng obtained similar contracts around the same time,” Dion wrote.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 30, 2022.