NewsAlert Under fire Morneau says his assets will be in blind trust

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OTTAWA — Embattled Finance Minister Bill Morneau says he has put his substantial personal assets in a blind trust, an effort to tamp down an escalating controversy over conflict of interest allegations that have threatened to undermine the federal Liberal government.Morneau also says he plans to sell off all of his and his family’s assets in Morneau Shepell, the human resources firm that bears his name.The former businessman has insisted he made sure to disclose all his assets to the federal ethics watchdog when he came into office, and he that he followed her recommendations very carefully to avoid any conflicts of interest.However, today’s move — designed to silence Morneau’s increasingly vocal critics — could also be considered a tacit acknowledgment that the rules themselves are in need of an update, something the ethics commissioner herself has suggested in the past.Commissioner Mary Dawson said this week she told Morneau a blind trust wouldn’t be necessary, since his shares were indirectly held through private companies and were therefore not considered a “controlled asset” under the Conflict of Interest Act.However, Dawson urged the previous Conservative government in 2013 to amend the law to require blind trusts for personal assets owned by public office holders, regardless of whether they were directly or indirectly owned — a change that was never made.More Coming

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