Ethics commissioner says Flaherty broke rules with radio licence letter

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - The federal ethics commissioner says Finance Minister Jim Flaherty broke the rules by supporting the radio licence application of a company in his riding.

Mary Dawson has ordered Flaherty to refrain from writing similar letters in the future without seeking approval from her office.

In her order, Dawson says Flaherty violated the Conflict of Interest Act as well as accountability guidelines for ministers.

The act prohibits ministers from using their position to try to influence decision-making when doing so would improperly advance someone's private interests.

Guidelines issued by the Prime Minister's Office say cabinet members should not intervene in licence decisions of tribunals such as the federal broadcast regulator.

Flaherty and the Prime Minister's Office had argued that the minister was merely helping a company in his riding, as any MP should, in writing the letter of support for Durham Radio Inc.