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Under fire, embattled Morneau commits to finally put assets in blind trust

Under fire, embattled Morneau commits to finally put assets in blind trust”

During a news conference on Parliament Hill, Morneau said he will unload the million shares he has in Morneau Shepell, the human resources and pension management company his father founded.

She added that, at the time of resignation, public filings showed he owned 2,254,109 shares in Morneau Shepell. They must either sell the assets or put them in a blind trust for as long as they remain in office, or until the assets have been depleted.

"I need to do more", Morneau told reporters in Ottawa Thursday afternoon.

The Conservatives and NDP alike say there is an enormous conflict created by a finance minister regulating an industry that includes a company in which he owns some $40 million in shares.

"The law is in place to prevent conflicts of interest, and Canadians deserve to know whether the minister is using his position to benefit his family company", said Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

Morneau also repeated what he said during an earlier news conference Thursday: that he feels the controversy about his personal wealth has been a "distraction" when he is trying to roll out changes to controversial tax proposals.

Morneau is continuing to deflect questions today as ethical questions are piling up related to his failure to place his personal assets in a blind trust after being appointed to cabinet nearly two years ago.

The former businessman - who said Thursday he now owns about a million shares in the company - had 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.

"We're going to take a step back and reconsider that aspect of our tax proposal", said the Finance Minister.

"In fact, what I have seen over the last week is I need to do more". "That is the kind of integrity Canadians expect from all members of this House".

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson said this week that she did not advise Morneau not to put the assets in a blind trust, but did tell him it was not specifically required under current rules.

Despite being grilled on the matter, Trudeau refused to answer questions about when he found out Morneau's assets weren't in a blind trust. I am trying to make sure that we are successfully improving the lives of Canadians across the country, so if we're getting distracted because some people are anxious about my personal situation, it's time to move on. Minister Morneau's other assets will be placed in a blind trust in order to avoid any public perception of conflict of interest, he added.

In the only appearance of a concession that he didn't go far enough before, Morneau wrote to Dawson this week to request another meeting to discuss if a blind trust should be considered now.

Guy Caron, the NDP's leader in the House, said Morneau Shepell's share price jumped after that bill was introduced past year.

Dawson's office did not immediately return calls for comment.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced changes to his proposed tax reforms for private corporations on Wednesday, saying they will now target only the "unfair" tax advantages used by the wealthiest Canadians. The Finance Minister's defence came just hours after the Liberal Government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau backed away from controversial proposals to change the tax code that have drawn the ire of groups ranging from small business owners to doctors and farmers.



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