REPORT: Liberal MP Greg Fergus Violated Conflict Of Interest Act

The Ethics Commissioner ruled that Fergus “contravened section 9 of the Act” by attempting to influence a decision by the CRTC.

We can add Liberal MP Greg Fergus to the growing list of Liberals who have been found to have violated the Conflict of Interest Act.

In a ruling released today, the Federal Ethics Commissioner said Fergus violated section 9 of the Act by writing a letter to the CRTC in support of mandatory carriage for a broadcast service.

The summary of the ruling can be read below:

“This report presents the findings of my examination under the Conflict of Interest Act (Act) of the conduct of the Honourable Greg Fergus, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the President of the Treasury Board, and Member of Parliament for Hull–Aylmer, with respect to a letter of support relating to an application for a new broadcasting licence to the Canadian Radio‑television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

In June 2020, Natyf Inc. applied to the CRTC for its broadcast service Natyf TV to be granted mandatory distribution as part of the digital basic service across the province of Quebec. On June 2, 2021, Mr. Ronald Félix, a director of Natyf Inc., requested a letter from Mr. Fergus in support of its application. According to Mr. Fergus, Mr. Félix, as a Black Canadian, approached him in part due to his role as Chair of the Parliamentary Black Caucus, since the application concerned a television station that targets a diverse and inclusive Francophone audience.

On June 28, 2021, Mr. Fergus’ staff provided Mr. Félix with a letter signed by Mr. Fergus in his capacity as Member of Parliament. In a public notice dated September 21, 2022, the CRTC invited comments on Natyf Inc.’s application, and on September 28, 2022, Natyf Inc. submitted the letter signed by Mr. Fergus to the CRTC.

In this examination, I sought to determine whether Mr. Fergus had contravened section 9 of the Act, which prohibits public office holders from using their position to seek to influence a decision of another person so as to improperly further another person’s private interests.

Given that the letter of support was intended to influence the decision of the CRTC so as to further the private interests of Natyf Inc., I had to determine whether those interests were furthered improperly.

The Office has established several times before—in compliance orders, in a past examination report and in a guideline published on its website—that ministers and parliamentary secretaries should not write letters of support to quasi-judicial tribunals like the CRTC, given their governmental roles and the influence they possess. The role of parliamentary secretaries and the principle of non-intervention in quasi-judicial decisions are also outlined in the Prime Minister’s Open and Accountable Government guideline.

On this basis, I found that it was improper for Mr. Fergus to write a letter of support for Natyf Inc. in its pursuit of a broadcasting licence. Even though the letter was written on Mr. Fergus’ Member of Parliament letterhead, his role as Parliamentary Secretary simply cannot be disregarded.

Consequently, I found that Mr. Fergus contravened section 9 of the Act.​”

Trudeau trend

This has been an ongoing trend under the ‘leadership’ of Justin Trudeau.

The Liberals have repeatedly been found to have violated ethics rules, and those who sough to comport themselves with integrity – like Jody Wilson-Raybould – have been pushed out.

With a government that exhibits a combination of arrogance, contempt for Canadian taxpayers, and incompetence, there’s no reason to think these ethics violations will stop anytime soon.

Spencer Fernando

Photo – YouTube