04/26/2012 11:40 EDT | Updated 06/26/2012 05:12 EDT

Lisa Raitt: Air Canada Upgrade Wasn't An Ethics Violation, Watchdog Rules


OTTAWA - The federal ethics commissioner has cleared Labour Minister Lisa Raitt over a complaint about a seat upgrade on an Air Canada flight.

Mary Dawson says Raitt did nothing wrong in the case.

It was alleged that Raitt accepted an upgrade authorized by a senior Air Canada official at a time when the airline was in the midst of labour turmoil and Raitt had mused about back-to-work legislation.

In fact, Dawson says, the minister used a frequent-flyer credit to get the upgrade to business class on a flight to Ottawa from Toronto last September.

Because the flight was booked at the last minute after an earlier booking was cancelled, there was a delay in transferring the credit to the correct flight, Dawson says, but that was an internal airline problem.

The case began with an email complaint from someone identifying himself as a flight attendant, and was later taken up by two MPs, Yvan Godin of the NDP and Liberal John McCallum.

The MPs suggested Raitt violated the Conflict of Interest Act.

Dawson concluded there was no violation.

"The evidence shows that the seat upgrade was obtained using one of Ms. Raitt's frequent-flyer credits to which she was entitled and did not constitute a gift or other advantage," Dawson wrote in her formal report.

"I therefore conclude that Ms Raitt did not contravene Section 11 of the Conflict of Interest Act."

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