Nigel Wright, former chief of staff to prime minister Stephen Harper, arrives at the Ottawa courthouse in Ottawa Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015 to testify at the Mike Duffy trial. (Photo: Justin Tang/CP)Wright was at the heart of a protracted scandal that rocked the former Conservative government, but he was never charged with an offence. The commissioner suspended her investigation of the former right-hand-man to the prime minister in June 2013 amid an RCMP investigation that resulted in 31 criminal charges against Duffy, including an allegation that the Harper-appointed senator had accepted a bribe. A judge earlier this spring cleared Duffy of all charges in a scathing judgment that pointed the finger at the Prime Minister's Office. Justice Charles Vaillancourt ruled in April that Duffy was "just another piece on the chessboard" and described the behaviour of senior PMO staff as "unacceptable in a democratic society."
Wright never charged
Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson waits to appear at committee on Monday February 11, 2013 in Ottawa. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)The ethics commissioner identified four "high-profile" fundraisers she examined, including a private reception at a Toronto law office headlined by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, and appeals by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau that offered donors a chance to win face-to-face meetings. "While all four instances referred to above raised questions about the appropriateness of the way the fundraisers were organized, it was never clear that there was a contravention of the (Conflict of Interest) Act," says the annual report. Dawson's report recounts her past investigations of similar cash-for-access allegations under the previous government and noted it is an ongoing issue. And she reprised her previous — and ignored — recommendations that the "House of Commons might wish to consider implementing a separate code of conduct to address the political conduct of members and their staff, including political fundraising activities and I continue to believe that such rules should be established." "This would go some way to maintain and enhance public confidence and trust in the integrity of ministers and parliamentary secretaries," says the report.
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