Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Minister of Finance Bill Morneau responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Wednesday.p

Tories call for Morneau to resign, but Trudeau defends his finance minister

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer demanded Bill Morneau hand in his resignation Wednesday as political rivals intensified their attacks on a finance minister mired in controversy for weeks.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched a spirited defence of Morneau, accusing the Tories of engaging in baseless personal attacks that they won’t repeat outside the House of Commons for fear of being sued.

“After careful consideration, in my capacity of leader of the Opposition, I am officially calling on Bill Morneau to resign as finance minister,” Scheer said shortly before question period, where the issue dominated debate.

He advised Trudeau to fire Morneau if he refused to step aside on his own.

But the prime minister said he still has full confidence in Morneau and then went on the offense against the Opposition.

“The fabrications and the personal attacks, the slinging of mud in this place, and hiding behind parliamentary privilege, is not what Canadians expect from this place,” Trudeau said.

The push for Morneau’s departure is yet another challenge to a finance minister who’s been forced to navigate several ethics-related controversies since the summer.

In July, he proposed tax-system changes that enraged small-business owners to the point he eventually had to back off elements of his plan.

Morneau has also faced intense political pressure over how he handled his personal financial arrangements after coming to office. The questions focused on his shares in the human resources firm Morneau Shepell, which was built by his family and for which he was executive chairman until his 2015 election win.

After the controversy erupted, he sold off the remainder of his holdings in the company — worth about $21 million — and vowed to place his other substantial assets in a blind trust. Morneau donated to charity the difference between what the shares were worth at the time of the sale and their value in 2015 when he was first elected — an amount estimated at about $5 million.

The federal ethics commissioner also fined Morneau $200 for failing to disclose a private corporation, in which he is a director, that owns a villa in France. Morneau had disclosed ownership of the villa to Mary Dawson but, due to what his office called an administrative oversight, failed to disclose that ownership was through a corporation.

Then came conflict-of-interest allegations over proposed pension reform, spearheaded by Morneau, that opponents have alleged would bring him personal financial benefit. The federal ethics commissioner has launched a formal examination into the matter.

This week, the Tories and the New Democrats have been grilling the Liberals about his earlier, late-2015 sale of shares in Morneau Shepell — a transaction that took place ahead of a tax change announcement.

During Monday’s question period, Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre claimed Morneau’s December 2015 announcement, which unveiled the government’s plan raise income taxes on the highest earners, caused the entire stock market to drop — including the value of Morneau Shepell shares.

Poilievre said 680,000 shares in the company were sold off roughly a week earlier in a move that saved the owner half a million dollars.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Tories, NDP lay out demands as Liberals prepare to reveal state of economy

OTTAWA — Opposition parties have laid out their demands as the federal… Continue reading

Ford revives Bronco brand, aims at Jeep’s big off-road sales

DETROIT — When it comes to rugged vehicles that go off the… Continue reading

Trump-connected lobbyists reap windfall in federal virus aid

WASHINGTON — Forty lobbyists with ties to President Donald Trump helped clients… Continue reading

Alberta First Nation monitors hundreds for COVID-19 as it announces curfew

SIKSIKA NATION, Alta. — A First Nation in southern Alberta has implemented… Continue reading

Albertans get an extra free order of COVID-19 masks

Packages will be available July 13 at fast food restaurants

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

Flood of people are expected to flee Hong Kong clampdown

“We will grant BNOs five years’ limited leave to remain (in the… Continue reading

Canadian Taylor Pendrith one shot back heading into final round

BERTHOUD, Colo. — Canadian Taylor Pendrith is in contention for his first… Continue reading

Five things to watch as Blue Jays open training camp in Toronto

Most MLB players are beginning their summer training camps Friday in preparation… Continue reading

Theatre star Nick Cordero dies at 41 after months of complications from COVID-19

TORONTO — Hamilton-raised theatre star Nick Cordero, who had legions of supporters… Continue reading

Spaghetti Western movie composer Ennio Morricone dead at 91

ROME — Ennio Morricone, the Oscar-winning Italian composer who created the coyote-howl… Continue reading

P.E.I. reports three new COVID-19 cases, including one seniors’ residence employee

CHARLOTETOWN, P.E.I. — Prince Edward Island reported new COVID-19 cases for the… Continue reading

Even pandemic can’t spoil July

July. Finally. It’s seems like the last three weird months have taken… Continue reading

‘You have to show up:’ NDP MP questions virtual attendance of Alberta Tories

NDP MP McPherson says she’s disappointed Tory MPs haven’t been participating in virtual meetings

Most Read