Canadian senator breached ethics code with ‘Freedom Convoy’ rant: watchdog – National

The Senate Ethics Oversight Board found that Conservative Senator Michael McDonald violated the Code of Conduct by lashing out at last year’s ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests and refusing to respond to an investigation into his actions. bottom.

A Nova Scotia senator was videotaped in February 2022 blaming downtown Ottawa residents for their frustration over coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions and weeks of demonstrations against the Liberal government. .

In the video, McDonald explained that residents are being paid too much and not working hard enough.

“This is a city of fun for everyone, it’s the capital of the country. Just because you’re making a six-figure salary and working 20 hours a week doesn’t make this a city like you.” I haven’t worked a full week in the last two years.It sucks,” McDonald said in the recording.

In the video, McDonald calls his wife, who opposed the protests, “Karen” (a derogatory term for women with rights). Police have ordered protesters to leave the scene, but McDonald added, “I don’t want them to leave.”

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McDonald apologized for remarks made to the Senate in February last year. He told the media and Senate Ethics Officer Pierre Legault that he had been drinking that night. In the recording, McDonald was heard asking that he not be recorded, and the videographer falsely claimed that McDonald was not on tape.

The oversight body ruled that McDonald had violated Article 6 of the statute governing senators and had “significant consequences” for the agency.

Click to play video: 'Mendicino reacts after denying Ford abandoned Ottawa during Freedom Convoy protests'

Mendicino reacts after denying Ford abandoned Ottawa during Freedom Convoy protests

“During the state of emergency, senators are expected to represent Canadians rather than denigrate, ridicule, or demean Canadians, while at the same time committing illegal acts. We are also asked to encourage,” Lugault said in a report released Tuesday.

He said the senator’s request to ban the filming demonstrated a “deliberate failure to exercise dignified reservation and restraint.”

Lugo said McDonald’s remarks will encourage senators to “hold the highest standards of dignity inherent in the position of senator” and to “abstain from any action that may adversely affect the position of the senator or the institution of the Senate.” was found to have violated the rules.

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The investigation began after nine McDonald’s competitors filed complaints. The senator acknowledged his inadequacies and welcomed Mr. Lugo’s guidance on how to rectify the situation.

Oversight authorities asked McDonald’s to take three actions, and McDonald’s followed two of them: an apology on the floor and posting on social media.

A third proposed action was to have Mr. McDonald point out to his colleagues that his actions might be reprehensible, but this formally stated that the Senate disapproved of something. It is what I did.

The report found that McDonald’s refusal of the action did not violate the law, act in an offensive manner, or misuse Senate resources, and therefore “[his]conduct” included There was nothing critical,” he said. “This is by no means an ethical issue,” MacDonald reportedly wrote.

His lawyers argued that the request violated a special right that senators and members of Congress have, known as parliamentary privilege, and the independence of the Senate. In a letter to the Ethics Office, the attorney said it was “an insidious coercive example of coercion.”

Rego, McDonald and his lawyers exchanged a series of letters over a year, raising a detailed list of questions the senators deemed irrelevant and “highly controversial public policy issues.” He refused to answer the question of “partisan debate” that

The senator was particularly annoyed by a monitor who asked who he had dinner with before commenting. Lugo said the information could have been involved in determining who witnessed the exchange with the person who filmed the remarks and whether the senator was performing congressional duties at the time. .

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Click to play video: 'Freedom Convoy' protesters skip Winnipeg on reunion tour and go straight to 'Camp Hope'

‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters skip Winnipeg on reunion tour and go straight to ‘Camp Hope’

McDonald eventually called for the issue to be taken up by a Senate committee, but the agency said it would undermine the investigative process, which is said to be classified and free of political interference.

“His lack of cooperation was a clear disregard for the process outlined under the Code and formally adopted by the Senate,” Lugo wrote.

He said McDonald should have told his colleagues that he could be criticized and that he should have shown “genuine remorse” for his remarks.

Mr Lugo found that McDonald’s repeated refusal to comply with the investigation further undermined the code’s requirement to conduct “with dignity, honor and integrity” in the performance of congressional duties. That’s why the officer is now recommending “senate fines” against McDonald’s.

“His conduct in this regard is so egregious that no action will be taken to remedy the damage his conduct has caused to the Senate’s office and the organization of the Senate,” the ethics officer wrote.

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“This is the first time a senator has not only refused to respect and adhere to a normative investigative process, but has attempted to advocate and follow a process he designed for his own investigation.”

The Senate Conflicts of Interest Committee has received the report and may schedule a hearing on the issue, but the Senate is adjourned until Sept. 19.

McDonald said in an email sent Tuesday that he plans to discuss the report with the commission. “We respect the process and will not comment further at this time.”

McDonald has been in the Senate since 2009, when he was appointed on the advice of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

© 2023 Canadian Press

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