Federal cabinet minister gave Markham, Ont.-based community centre 'preferential treatment': Mary Dawson
Mar 10, 2015
Public Works Minister Diane Finley has had her knuckles rapped by the federal ethics watchdog over more than $1 million in funding granted to a Markham, Ont.-based community centre.
According to a report released by Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson on Tuesday, the minister acted improperly and violated the Conflict of Interest Act by giving money earmarked for accessibility projects to the Markham Centre for Skills and Independence in 2011.
At the time, Finley was minister of human resources and social development, the department responsible for administering the Enabling Accessibility Fund.
The proposal, which was submitted by Rabbi Chaim Mendelsohn on behalf of the Canadian Federation of Chabad Lubavitch, was added at Finley’s request to four projects already selected from 167 eligible proposals, Dawson reported.
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Not surprisingly, Finley came under heavy opposition fire during question period, with New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair demanding that Prime Minister Stephen Harper "follow through" on the report.
Harper, however, lost no time coming to the defence of Finley, who, he said, had made a decision within her discretionary ministerial authority.
"I believe she acted in good faith, and she certainly had no personal interest whatsoever in the decision to support an … accessibility program for disabled people in the riding," he said.