Commissioner of Canada Elections
Canada Elections Act
This notice is published by the Commissioner of Canada Elections, pursuant to section 521.34 (2) of the Canada Elections Act, S.C. 2000, c. 9.
On September 9, 2020, the Commissioner of Canada Elections accepted an undertaking from Mr. William F. Morneau Jr., pursuant to section 521.13 of the Canada Elections Act. The text of the undertaking is set out in full below.
September 10, 2020
Pursuant to section 521.13 of the Canada Elections Act (the Act), the Commissioner of Canada Elections (the Commissioner) has accepted this undertaking from Mr. William F. Morneau Jr. The undertaking is aimed at ensuring compliance with the Act.
The relevant provisions of the Act are paragraph 368(1)(a) and section 508.1, which make it a violation to circumvent the prohibition, at subsection 363(1), against a contributor other than an individual who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada making contributions to federal political entities.
Statements by Mr. Morneau
For the purpose of this undertaking, Mr. Morneau acknowledges the following:
- At all relevant times prior to the 43rd federal general election held on October 21, 2019, Mr. Morneau was the federal Minister of Finance.
- On July 29, 2019, Mr. Morneau participated in a meeting of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, where he gave a speech in his official capacity as Minister of Finance. Following this event, the Minister participated in a roundtable discussion with local business leaders, business owners and residents, toured a clothing factory, and met with leaders of the Muslim community. The Minister's participation at these four events was announced on the Department of Finance Canada's website.
- Ms. Anita Anand – a prospective candidate of the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) for the electoral district of Oakville – was in attendance at all of these events. She was present for the speech, the roundtable and the factory tour at the invitation of the Chamber of Commerce. During his Chamber of Commerce remarks, Mr. Morneau singled out Ms. Anand, highlighting her “significant accomplishments […] as a scholar, as a legal professor, as well as someone who's been in the private sector, working at [a] law firm” and opined that “when such a person steps forward for public life—with significant accomplishments in their private sector life—I think it's important that we – we support them and encourage them.”
- These comments provided a partisan benefit to Ms. Anand and to the LPC's prospect in the electoral district of Oakville.
- On his Facebook account, Mr. Morneau published a post about his visit to the clothing factory, which included a photo of Ms. Anand and himself, and a statement thanking her for showing him around Oakville.
- On August 27, 2019, Mr. Morneau, in his capacity as Minister of Finance, was given a tour of a Caledon area business, where he met with local families and business leaders. Ms. Michele Fisher, the prospective LPC candidate in the electoral district of Dufferin—Caledon, attended the tour. Mr. Morneau and Ms. Fisher shared a photo of their meeting at the tour on their respective personal social media accounts.
- Ministers are prohibited from using public resources and funds from their departmental budgets for partisan purposes. The Prime Minister's guide to ministers entitled Open and Accountable Government, issued on November 27, 2015, required at the relevant times that ministers ensure that Government of Canada communications be consistent with overall government objectives and decisions. Specifically, the guide required that ministers ensure that all official Government of Canada communications products and activities be devoid of partisan content.
- Introducing and promoting prospective LPC candidates at the events, promoted the LPC's electoral prospects in these electoral districts. This caused the expenses related to these events to benefit the LPC. The Government of Canada is not “an individual who is a Canadian citizen or is a permanent resident,” and Mr. Morneau's failure to exercise due diligence therefore resulted in a circumvention of the rule at section 363 of the Act.
- The known quantifiable costs associated with these events were calculated to have a commercial value of $1,661.
Factors considered by the Commissioner
In accepting this undertaking, the Commissioner took into account the factors set out in paragraph 32 of the Compliance and Enforcement Policy of the Commissioner of Canada Elections. In particular, the Commissioner considered the fact that:
- Mr. Morneau and his office co-operated fully and in good faith with the Commissioner's investigation;
- There is no indication that Mr. Morneau intended to use public resources for directly partisan purposes. Nor is there any indication that Mr. Morneau personally participated in planning any of the tours in question;
- The registered association for the LPC in Mr. Morneau's electoral district offered to pay, and indeed did pay, to the Receiver General for Canada, the amount of $1,661, representing the known quantifiable costs associated with these events;
- Mr. Morneau has ensured that training was provided to his staff to avoid similar situations in the future; and
- Mr. Morneau prepared a bilingual notice, the contents of which were approved by the Commissioner, for the purpose of publication as directed by the terms herein, in order to educate others about the importance of avoiding events that include partisan elements.
Terms and Conditions
Mr. Morneau undertakes to display a link to the notice described above on the home page of his personal website, or if he does not have one, on his social media accounts, for a minimum period of 30 days from the publication of the undertaking on the Commissioner of Canada Elections' website, and to transmit a link to this notice via his official Facebook and Twitter accounts, with the following statement: “The Commissioner of Canada Elections accepts an undertaking from Bill Morneau in relation to a circumvention of the Canada Elections Act's rules on contributions.” This transmission shall occur on the day the notice is first displayed, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Mr. Morneau undertakes to pay the sum of $300 to the Receiver General for Canada within 30 days of the date the Commissioner accepts this undertaking by signing it. This represents $150 per tour, taking into account the mitigating factors described above.
Mr. Morneau further undertakes to provide evidence, in writing, to the Commissioner that this undertaking has been complied with, within 30 days of receiving notice of the signing of the undertaking by the Commissioner.
Pursuant to subsection 521.13(4) of the Act, the Commissioner has informed Mr. Morneau that this undertaking will be published on the Commissioner's website, as required by subsection 521.34(2) of the Act.
The Commissioner agrees that the fulfillment by Mr. Morneau of his obligations as stated herein will constitute compliance with the undertaking. In accordance with section 508.1 of the Act, failure to comply with any provision of this undertaking may result in the Commissioner issuing a notice of violation imposing an administrative monetary penalty against Mr. Morneau.
Signed by Mr. William F. Morneau Jr. in the City of Toronto, in the province of Ontario this 4th day of September, 2020.
William F. Morneau Jr.
Signed by the Commissioner of Canada Elections, in the City of Gatineau, in the province of Quebec, this 9th day of September, 2020.
Yves Côté, QC
Commissioner of Canada Elections