News

Made-in-Canada rocker lands Jagmeet Singh in ethical trouble


Although the NDP leader has offered to pay for the chair given to him as a gift and tagged on Instagram, critics say Singh should have known better

Article content

Tagging a rocking chair on Instagram has landed the federal NDP leader in discussions with the ethics commissioner.

Advertisement

Article content

On Sunday, a photo was posted to Jagmeet Singh’s Instagram account of the leader seated in a grey wing-backed chair, his newborn daughter cradled in his arms.

That same chair, a $1,895 rocker manufactured by Toronto’s Monte Design Group, made an appearance in early December in a now-deleted Instagram post on the account owned by Singh’s wife, Gurkiran Kaur Sidhu.

Party officials confirmed the chair was gifted to her by the company with the expectation she’d promote it on social media.

Sunday’s post was originally tagged with Monte Design’s Instagram account, by Wednesday the tag had been removed.

Singh and immediate members of his family are forbidden from accepting such gifts under House of Commons rules — guidelines that apply to all MPs .

Advertisement

Article content

Section 14 of the House conflict of interest code states MPs and their family aren’t allowed to, either directly or indirectly, accept “any gift or other benefit” that “may influence the member in the exercise of a duty or function of his or her office.”

On Wednesday, NDP spokeswoman Melanie Richer said the tagged post was merely part of efforts by the couple to promote made-in-Canada products.

Jagmeet and Gurkiran love finding Canadian companies to support,

NDP spokeswoman Melanie Richer

“Jagmeet and Gurkiran love finding Canadian companies to support,” Richer said.

“From the furniture they have in their home to the clothes they wear, they’re proud to support Canadian companies and Canadian workers.”

The chair, she said, was specifically gifted to Singh’s wife.

“There was no expectation that Jagmeet would post about it,” Richer said.

“That being said, while they’re extremely grateful, they’ve realized their error and have paid for the gift.”

Advertisement

Article content

The NDP’s lapse-of-judgment defence isn’t sitting well with some observers.

UBC political science professor Max Cameron told National Post that following the rules should be a no-brainer for the social media-savvy NDP leader.

“It’s just so basic — you get a gift over a certain amount, you have to report it to the commissioner, period,” he said.

“All politicians should know this, and it’s certainly surprising that Singh didn’t comply.”

Under the rules, all gifts worth over $200 must be disclosed to the federal ethics commissioner within 60 days of receipt.

Richer said the party is working with the ethics commissioner to “ensure that any gifts received are declared and that we are in compliance with the Act.”

Canadian politicians are no stranger to ethical dilemmas, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family finding themselves embroiled in a number of high-profile scandals.

Advertisement

Article content

Trudeau became the first prime minister in Canadian history to be convicted of breaking ethics laws after his infamous 2016 Christmas vacation to the Aga Khan’s private island in the Bahamas.

In 2018, the prime minister found himself under scrutiny again after the ethics commissioner determined he’d breached the Conflict of Interest Act by improperly pressuring then-Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to offer SNC-Lavalin a deferred prosecution agreement as the Quebec engineering firm was on trial facing criminal bribery charges.

Ties between the Trudeaus and WE Charity founders Craig and Marc Kielburger were at issue when the organization was chosen to run a nearly billion-dollar student service grant program in summer 2020.

Advertisement

Article content

While Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion found the prime minister provided no preferential treatment to the Kielburgers, he ruled former Finance Minister Bill Morneau did — writing in his report that Morneau permitted his ministerial staff to “disproportionately assist” the organization when it came seeking federal funding.

Ethics and conflict-of-interest rules are in place for a reason, Cameron said — particularly if Singh is expected to call out other politicians for not following ethics guidelines.

“If you get a gift, particularly a gift of any value, it creates a feeling of being beholden to the giver,” Cameron said.

“We don’t want our politicians to be in that position.”

Email: bpassifiume@postmedia.com
Twitter: @bryanpassifiume

Advertisement

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.