The Chronicle Herald is alleging that Peter McKay is in conflict of interest
Defence Minister Peter MacKay has violated the code of ethics for federal ministers by failing to declare his role in two family companies, The Chronicle Herald has learned.
Until Wednesday, Mr. MacKay was vice-president of Beaver Lumber and a director of Lorne Resources, both companies owned by his father, former federal minister Elmer MacKay.
Elmer MacKay owns thousands of hectares of woodland in the province, mostly in Pictou County.
Peter MacKay resigned from the boards of both companies on Wednesday after he learned that he was in violation of the act. He said he had forgotten that he was an officer of either company.
Some arenâ€™t buying his excuse
Duff Conacher of the Ottawa ethics watchdog group Democracy Watch is skeptical of Mr. MacKayâ€™s claim that he forgot about his role in the companies.
"His father never mentions the company or ever lets him know anything about it, as an officer, and weâ€™re supposed to believe that?" Mr. Conacher said. "Itâ€™s his fatherâ€™s primary source of income, and heâ€™s an officer, and he forgot. So he manages but he doesnâ€™t know that he manages it. Ignorance is not a defence of violation of the law."
Last Thursday, Mr. MacKay announced $7 million in federal funding for woodlot owners in Nova Scotia. He said Wednesday he did not know if his familyâ€™s business stood to benefit from that money, or other federal programs, but it has nothing to do with him.
"I have absolutely no involvement with the business, with the business of my father or brother, nor do I have any involvement in the administration of this money," he said. "My role was to do the announcement on behalf of the government of Canada. I donâ€™t decide where the money goes."
Mr. MacKay called his failure to remove himself from the boards of the companies an oversight.
"My mistake, if anything, was not to have twigged to the fact that I should remove my name. I guess it sounds hard to believe but I completely forgot because I didnâ€™t have any involvement with it."