The federal ethics commissioner has started an investigation into whether Heritage Minister Shelly Glover violated the Conflict of Interest Act by attending a fundraiser at which members of Winnipeg’s arts-and-culture community were asked to donate money to the cabinet minister.

In a letter to Liberal MP Ralph Goodale, who requested the investigation, Mary Dawson says she has “commenced an examination” to determine whether Glover broke the rules in connection with the Jan. 16 fundraiser, held at a Winnipeg home. 

Under federal rules, cabinet ministers cannot “solicit or accept funds from a person or organization who has lobbied or is likely to lobby the public officer holder of the officer or department.”

Federal conflict-of-interest rules also say that a minister must avoid “situations where issues of preferential treatment of other conflicts could arise.”

When CTV News showed up at the fundraiser last week, Glover asked, “What are they doing here?” and said she had only stopped in “briefly.”

CTV News was then asked to leave the house by the homeowner when the reporter asked Glover why she was taking money from people who depend on her department for funding.

The next day, Glover’s office told CTV News that some of the guests at the fundraiser did have dealings with her department and that the minister had decided not to accept the $1,200 raised at the event.

Glover said her riding association had sent out the invitations and she had no involvement in selecting guests. She also said that she had written to the ethics commissioner herself asking if the event could get her in trouble.

Opposition MPs have sharply criticized Glover, saying the fundraiser raises serious ethical questions. Last week, Goodale said the event “clearly crosses the line.”