Tories urge Jody Wilson-Raybould to return money from fundraiser at law firm
Published Monday, April 11, 2016 5:25PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 11, 2016 10:15PM EDT
Conservative MPs want Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to pay back money from a fundraiser at a Toronto law firm, but she said her appearance at the event was cleared by the ethics commissioner.
Wilson-Raybould attended the $500-a-head fundraiser with lawyers at Torys LLP, a prominent firm based in the city's financial district.
She defended her actions in the House of Commons on Monday, saying she was at the fundraiser as an MP for Vancouver Granville, not as the justice minister.
"I take my ethical responsibilities incredibly seriously. I proactively sought to seek the opinion of (Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson) and there is no conflict," said Wilson-Raybould.
"What we talked about was Canadian politics, being involved in politics and ensuring that everybody has the ability to have their views heard," she added.
However, Conservative MP Blaine Calkins was skeptical.
"Does the justice minister really expect Canadians to believe that high-priced Ontario lawyers paid 500 bucks a plate to meet with the member for Vancouver Granville?" Calkins asked during question period.
"It doesn't add up. It's not a defence at all. Canadians can see right through it," he added.
Calkins' fellow Conservative MP Michael Cooper called Wilson-Raybould's evening a "sordid" affair.
"Last week, the minister attended a pay-to-play fundraiser in which attendees were invited to pay in return for access to the minister," said Cooper.
"The minister of justice has a duty not only to be independent, but to be perceived as independent."
Cooper also called on Wilson-Raybould to apologize and "return the pay-to-play cash."
The Edmonton MP also demanded to see the fundraiser's guest list.
Members of the Conservatives Party also asked why she went to the reception with a ministerial advisor who works in her Ottawa office.
"She paid her own way, having been a long-standing resident of Toronto," said Wilson-Raybould.
NDP House leader Peter Julian compared Wilson-Raybould to former Conservative cabinet minister Bev Oda who was also involved in a fundraising controversy.
"Even Conservative Bev Oda, in an ethically challenged government, was caught in the same type of scandal and gave back the contribution," said Julian.
"Sunny ways is clouding over more and more."
Meanwhile, Liberal House leader Dominic LeBlanc backed Wilson-Raybould, saying the fundraiser was legitimate and labelled Conservative attacks "feigned indignation."
"The Liberal party raises money in accordance with the principles of the Canada Elections Act," LeBlanc said.
Former Conservative heritage minister Shelly Glover came under fire two years ago under similar circumstances.
Glover attended a Winnipeg fundraiser organized by members of her riding association that included arts community stakeholders.
Then-deputy Liberal leader and current Minister of Public Safety, Ralph Goodale, was one of the politicians who accused Glover of crossing the line.
Glover was cleared by the ethics commissioner, but she ended up not accepting the donations.
The Opposition wants Dawson to further investigate Wilson-Raybould's case, but she's already said there's nothing in the rules to prevent ministers from attending these kinds of fundraisers.
She added that it's up to MPs to change the law.
With a report from CTV's Senior Political Correspondent Glen McGregor and files from The Canadian Press