06/20/2013 04:06 EDT | Updated 08/20/2013 05:12 EDT

Senator's Favours For Assistant Subject Of Complaint To Ethics Watchdog

A Liberal senator has complained to the Senate ethics officer about Conservative Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu's attempt to arrange a Senate job and an extra two weeks of holiday time for his assistant with whom he had had a romantic relationship.

Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette is also objecting to Boisvenu's six-month delay in complying with a previous order from the ethics officer to either terminate his relationship with Isabelle LaPointe or end her employment in his office.

In a letter to Senate ethics officer Lyse Ricard, Hervieux-Payette wrote: "It was not until the media reported these facts that Senator Boisvenu acted on the Senate ethics officer's recommendation. It was public pressure that actually forced him to comply."

Hervieux-Payette also points out that according to French-language newspaper La Presse, Boisvenu used his position as a senator to influence the clerk of the Senate and Senator David Tkachuk to further his private interests and those of a family member by arranging a job and extra time off for Lapointe.

In the letter, Hervieux-Payette notes that La Presse quoted Boisvenu as saying, "that he had intervened … 'as any former boss' would' to ensure (1) that this 'family member' who had left his office, found employment with the Senate administration; and (2) that this individual was given special treatment as to the leave used during her employment with the Senate."

Tkachuk is the former head of the Senate's committee of internal economy, a body that oversees senators' expenses.

Boisvenu lived with Lapointe for 3 months

Boisvenu hired Lapointe in 2010 shortly after he was appointed to the Senate and has said he did not start a relationship with her until later.

While Boisvenu's marriage was falling apart, he lived with Lapointe near Ottawa for three months while collecting a minor accommodation stipend from the Senate. He later repaid the $900 to guard against any suggestion of impropriety.

According to La Presse, Boisvenu negotiated with Tkachuk so that Lapointe could take two weeks off before starting a new Senate job. However, when her six-month contract began in April, her bosses told her the two weeks she'd already taken comprised all the time off she would receive.

Boisvenu then contacted Tkachuk and the Senate clerk, who had agreed to the extra two weeks, La Presse reported. His request that the agreement be honoured was rejected.

In an email, Ricard said her office has received Hervieux-Payette's letter but couldn't comment further. If Ricard decides to proceed with an investigation, she must seek approval from a five-senator committee on conflict of interest.

Boisvenu has often been in the public eye because he sometimes appears with cabinet ministers during announcements about law and order legislation.

After the rape and murder of his daughter in 2002, he founded the Murdered or Missing Persons' Families' Association, and is an advocate of victims' rights.

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