POLITICS

Vic Toews's complaint against Pat Martin rejected by ethics commissioner

04/01/2015 10:24 EDT | Updated 06/01/2015 05:59 EDT
Former Manitoba Conservative MP Vic Toews has lost his counter-complaint against NDP MP Pat Martin, who prompted a conflict-of-interest investigation over Toews's lobbying work.

Toews, a former Tory cabinet minister who is currently a Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench judge, is being investigated over a possible violation of conflict-of-interest guidelines.

The conflict question was brought to the office's attention by Martin, who represents Winnipeg Centre.

Toews then filed a counter-complaint with the ethics commissioner against Martin, alleging that the NDP MP violated a confidentiality clause in the federal Conflict of Interest Act.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson wrote that Martin "did not fail to comply with the confidentiality portion of subsection 44(5) of the Act."

At the same time, Dawson said Martin should not have spoken out about his requests for an investigation before submitting the request to her office.

"Should you make another request in the future, I would appreciate receiving it in advance of its release to the media and being afforded time to notify the person who is the subject of the request," she wrote.

Last week, Dawson's office said there is enough information to examine whether Toews's lobbying efforts for the Peguis First Nation violated the rules.

CBC News has reported that within months of leaving cabinet, Toews, the former treasury board president, met with a lawyer representing the Peguis First Nation on several occasions regarding a settlement of the Kapyong barracks, according to court documents.

The old military base on Kenaston Boulevard in Winnipeg has sat empty since 2004, entangled in court proceedings. First Nations want to claim the land under treaty entitlements.

Conflict-of-interest rules prohibit former cabinet ministers from giving advice on or consulting about confidential information they found out while in government.

Toews retired from politics in July 2013 and was appointed to the Court of Queen's Bench in March 2014.

What rule was Pat Martin accused of breaching?

Section 44(5) of the Conflict of Interest Act states:

"If a member of the Senate or House of Commons receives information referred to in subsection (4), the member, while considering whether to bring that information to the attention of the Commissioner, shall not disclose that information to anyone. If the member brings that information to the attention of the Commissioner under that subsection, the member shall not disclose that information to anyone until the Commissioner has issued a report under this section in respect of the information."