Monday, March 13, 2023

Trade Minister Mary Ng did not consider resigning, repaying money after ethics breach

Trade Minister Mary Ng did not consider resigning, repaying money after ethics breach

Canada's minister for international trade says she never considered resigning after the federal ethics commissioner found she broke rules by awarding a contract to a friend.

"I failed to recuse myself from any dealings that ultimately led to the awarding of that contract, and for that I regret and it was a mistake and I apologize for that," Mary Ng told host of CTV's Question Period Vassy Kapelos on Sunday.

"Canadians expect me to continue to keep working hard, I've committed to continue to do that."

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  • Asked if she ever considered resigning, Ng responded, "I've said that in making this mistake I need to work very, very hard to earn the trust of those to whom I serve in my riding, but indeed across Canada. But no, I will keep working hard for Canadians."

    Kapelos also pressed Ng on whether she would repay the money back.

    "And just to be clear, you're saying you have not and you will not consider paying that money back?" Kapelos asked. "That's true?"

    "Yes," Ng replied before adding, "There were services that were provided for Canadians in that work, and the contract was awarded and it met the procurement rules."

    "And as I said, Vassy, and I've said this and I will continue to say it, I apologize for my lack of recusal, that will not happen again, and I commit to working very hard for Canadians and for my constituents," Ng said.

    In May 2022, then-federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion opened an investigation into Ng's conduct from spring 2020 involving an approximately $17,000 contract for media training given to a company co-founded by a Liberal strategist.

    The commissioner released his report in December concluding that Ng did not appear to be involved in later discussions around the final terms of the contract.

    However, he determined that Ng broke the rules for refusing to recuse herself from the process that led to the decision to award the contract to public relations firm Pomp and Circumstance due to her nearly 20-year friendship with the firm's co-founder, Amanda Alvaro.

    Ng issued an apology in the House of Commons as a result.

    Speaking on Question Period, Ng said awarding the contract met Treasury Board guidelines.

    "What I failed to do was to recuse, for that I apologize, for that it was a mistake. And what I would say to Canadians is I will continue to work hard in my capacity and that's the only way I know how to keep doing this work for Canadians in service of Canadians," she said.

    Ng testified in February to a parliamentary committee probing the details of the contract. During the meeting, the Conservatives pressed her on whether she would repay the money spent on the contract or intended to resign.

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