Ethics commissioner will not investigate cabinet minister Randy Boissonnault over texts

Canada’s ethics commissioner will not launch an investigation into allegations that Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault broke conflict of interest rules by being involved in business deals while in cabinet, according to a letter obtained by Media.“I no longer have concerns that you may have contravened your obligations under the (Conflict of Interest Act) and will take no further action at this time,” Ethics Commissioner Konrad von Finckenstein wrote in a letter to Boissonnault on June 25.

In the letter, von Finckenstein wrote that the probe did not turn up evidence to support allegations raised by  Media in June that Boissonnault may have been involved in managing or operating Global Heath Imports (GHI), a medical supply business he co-founded while serving as a cabinet minister.

Media reported on a text conversation that took place on Sept. 8, 2022 between GHI co-founder and COO Stephen Anderson and buyer Malvina Ghaoui, principal of The Ghaoui Group, a California-based company. In the text exchange, Anderson forwarded Ghaoui a message from someone named “Randy” asking for a “partner call” about a business deal between GHI and The Ghaoui Group.“I do not have any information before me to support the allegation that you were involved in managing or operating GHI on September 8, 2022,” von Finckenstein wrote in the letter, first reported by CBC News.

The Conflict of Interest Act prohibits public officeholders from managing or operating a business while in office.

While Boissonnault continues to own 50 per cent of GHI, which is allowed as long as they aren’t involved with company operations, Boissonnault said he resigned as director of the company when he was re-elected as Edmonton Centre MP in the fall of September 2021. His shares are held in a numbered company.“Minister Boissonnault ceased active involvement with GHI during the 2021 campaign, and formally resigned from his role with GHI after being elected in 2021,” wrote Alice Hansen, Boissonnault’s director of communications, in a prior statement.

Boissonnault provided documentation of his resignation as director of GHI to the ethics commissioner.

During a parliamentary ethics committee hearing in June in which Boissonnault and von Finckenstein both testified, von Finckenstein said he would look into whether Boissonnault had communicated with Anderson on Sept. 8, 2022, the day the text exchange occurred.

Boissonnault has repeatedly denied he is the “Randy” mentioned in the text exchange. The Ghaoui Group is now suing Anderson and two other employees of GHI over allegations of fraud.Anderson and his two employees, Felix Papineau and Shawna Parker, have filed statements of defence denying Ghaoui Group’s allegations.

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