The Honourable J. David Wake, Integrity Commissioner, today released his report into a complaint regarding Stan Cho, currently Associate Minister of Transportation and Member of Provincial Parliament for Willowdale. The report is in response to an affidavit submitted by Stephen Blais, Member of Provincial Parliament for Orléans, on March 12, 2021, in which he requested an opinion under section 30 of the Members’ Integrity Act, 1994.
Mr. Blais alleged that when Associate Minister Cho was Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance, he breached Ontario parliamentary convention by participating in three partisan meetings held in February 2021 from his Ministry of Finance office, and by advertising a partisan budget consultation that he hosted in his capacity as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance, also held that month.
Following the inquiry, Commissioner Wake found Mr. Cho breached parliamentary convention by using his Ministry of Finance office to participate remotely in partisan meetings. He also failed to provide adequate supervision, direction and training to his staff to ensure that they did not participate in partisan activities while using legislative resources, including time. Commissioner Wake recommends that no penalty be imposed in this case because Mr. Cho was unaware of the parliamentary convention involved in this matter and this inquiry has cured that deficiency. Mr. Cho has fully cooperated in this inquiry as have his staff and has a keener sense of the responsibilities he has in relation to the allocation of his staff’s resources.
Commissioner Wake makes three recommendations in his report: 1) that the staff of all MPPs be trained on the ethics rules in the Members’ Integrity Act, 1994 and on the parliamentary conventions related to the duties they carry out for their respective members; 2) that ministers and parliamentary assistants be aware of the bright line between the work done by their ministerial staff and that of their Queen’s Park and constituency staff; and 3) that ethics rules for Queen’s Park and constituency staff be implemented and made consistent with the rules for ministers’ staff.
The full report can be found here.
The Commissioner is not available for interviews.
About the OIC
The Office has seven mandates under five pieces of legislation:
- Members’ Integrity, providing confidential conflict of interest advice to MPPs;
- Ministers’ Staff Ethical Conduct, providing conflict of interest advice and direction to public servants in ministers’ offices;
- Lobbyist Registration, operating Ontario’s lobbyist registry and conducting investigations into matters of potential non-compliance;
- Disclosure of Wrongdoing, receiving whistleblowing disclosures from current and former members of the Ontario Public Service;
- Public Sector Ethics, providing conflict of interest advice and direction to a broad range of public servants; and,
- Expenses Review:
- Reviewing the travel, meal and hospitality expenses of Cabinet ministers, parliamentary assistants, Opposition leaders, and their staff; and,
- Reviewing the travel, meal and hospitality expenses of selected agencies.