A Canadian Flag flies upside down on the empty lawn of Parliament Hill, partially rendered as dirt amid the Centre Block construction project, on Canada Day in Ottawa, on Wednesday, July 1, 2020.

Minister’s sister-in-law steps down as ethics watchdog after committee launches probe

The sister-in-law of a Liberal cabinet minister has stepped down as the interim ethics commissioner a day after a House of Commons committee agreed to investigate her appointment.

Martine Richard, who has worked in the commissioner’s office as a lawyer since 2013, took over the top job last month for a six-month stint.

Richard is the sister-in-law of Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, who was found to have breached conflict-of-interest rules in 2018 for approving a lucrative fishing licence for a family member while he was fisheries minister.

A statement from the office of the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner says Richard will stay on as a lawyer while the search for a new leader continues.

A spokeswoman says neither the office nor Richard will respond to further questions on the subject.

On Tuesday, the committee on access to information, privacy and ethics agreed to study Richard’s appointment over the course of three hearings, and to invite her and LeBlanc to testify.