Conservative leader Andrew Scheer speaks with the media in the Foyer of the House of Commons Wednesday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Conservatives call for embattled Finance Minister Bill Morneau to resign

Morneau has faced intense pressure for not fully disclosing his personal financial arrangements

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called for Bill Morneau’s resignation Wednesday as political rivals stepped up their attacks on a finance minister mired in controversy for weeks.

Scheer demanded that Morneau step aside, and if he won’t, then Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should just fire him.

“After careful consideration, in my capacity of leader of the Opposition, I am officially calling on Bill Morneau to resign as finance minister,” Scheer told reporters before question period, where the issue dominated debate and saw Trudeau come to Morneau’s defence.

Scheer’s call for Morneau’s departure is the latest fuel thrown on the political fire that’s swirled around the finance minister since the summer, when he proposed tax-system changes that enraged small business owners.

Since then, Morneau has faced intense political pressure for not fully disclosing his personal financial arrangements.

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 the 2015 sale of shares in the human resources firm Morneau Shepell, built by Morneau and his father, ahead of a tax change announcement.

During Monday’s question period, Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre had 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 — saving the owner half a million dollars.

He repeatedly asked Morneau on Monday if he was the person who sold those shares, but the minister sidestepped the questions. On Wednesday, Morneau acknowledged that he sold Morneau Shepell shares after coming into office in the fall of 2015.

Poilievre has also suggested that Morneau used his inside knowledge to benefit himself financially.

“It is actually the responsibility of government to ensure that no minister ever uses inside knowledge to benefit from transactions on the stock market,” Poilievre said Monday during question period.

A day later, Morneau threatened to sue the Conservatives for suggesting he used his inside knowledge.

He challenged the Tories to step outside the House of Commons, and away from the legal shield known as parliamentary privilege, to repeat the insinuation.

Anything said in the House of Commons is subject to parliamentary privilege, which gives MPs legal protection from libel and defamation laws.

On Wednesday, Morneau and Trudeau took turns challenging the Opposition again to bring their accusations outside the House.

“If the member opposite has an allegation, if he wants to say something, he should say what he means,” Morneau said in a response to a question from Scheer.

“He should say it here, he should say it now, he should stand up and say it — and then he should go out into the foyer and say it again.”

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

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

Just Posted

Supporting a friend with mental health issues

AHS: Do you have a friend who just doesn’t seem to be their usual self?

PHOTOS: Ponoka Curling Club hosts Alberta Junior Curling Tour Event

The Ponoka Curling Club hosted its first-ever Alberta Junior Curling Tour Event… Continue reading

Jeffery Kraft of Ponoka remembered for being loving, well-liked

Kraft passed away on Dec. 15, 2019, in Lacombe at 20 years old

Deserving Ponoka student appointed to National Youth Council

Yael Witvoet will now be able to advocate for causes on a national scale

Province investigating death of Samson Cree Nation youth in care

16-year-old found deceased outside in Rocky Mountain House

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

UPDATE Human remains found in Manny’s Motel ruins

UPDATE RCMP Major Crimes Unit Investigate Fatal Fire in Wetaskiwin

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

Most Read