Paradis in more hot water over 2009 hunting trip
Published Monday, March 26, 2012 9:58PM EDT
Beleaguered federal Industry minister Christian Paradis is facing fresh criticism for staying at the exclusive hunting lodge of the former owner of the Quebec Nordiques, at a time when the federal government was being lobbied to help finance a new NHL arena.
CTV News has learned that in 2009, when Paradis was public works minister, he stayed at the lodge of Marcel Aubut, the former owner of the Quebec Nordiques.
At that time, Aubut, who is now president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, was lobbying Ottawa to help fund a $400-million arena in Quebec City.
Quebec City has been pitching for a new professional hockey team in the provincial capital for a number of years.
"If you are that minister you should under no circumstances accept any invitations to go to a hunting camp unless it's from your family," said Liberal House Leader Marc Garneau.
Paradis' office confirmed that he spent two nights at the lodge, and he was in a group that successfully hunted a moose. However, his office insisted that the minister took his own gear and supplied his own food.
"I don't care if he brought his sleeping bag," Garneau said. "It is totally inappropriate to accept an invitation in these circumstances."
Conflict of interest rules state that ministers are "not to accept any gift or benefit connected with their position that might reasonably be seen to compromise their personal judgment or integrity."
Aubut is in China, but his spokesman Dimitri Soudas said the hunting trip was purely personal, and that no business was discussed and Ottawa never funded the arena.
Last week, conflict of interest commissioner Mary Dawson said Paradis broke the rules in 2009 when he gave a former Tory colleague preferential treatment while pitching for a government contract.
Dawson said in a report released on March 22 that Paradis, then public works minister, helped set up a high-level meeting with senior bureaucrats for ex-Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer and a business partner.
Jaffer had a green technology consulting firm and was gauging interest in a project to install solar panels on federal buildings. He called and emailed political staff in the minister's office about the project and later called Paradis directly on his cellphone.
Documents released in 2010, obtained by The Canadian Press, showed that the minister's political staff pressed bureaucrats to meet Jaffer and business partner Patrick Glemaud.
The ruling marks the first time a sitting cabinet minister has been found in breach of the law.
Paradis has resisted calls to resign.
With reporting by CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife