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Senator urged to apologize after involvement with former staffer

Conservative Sen. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu waits for the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee to begin on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday Feb.1, 2012.


A Conservative senator who renewed the contract of a woman he was dating, then pressed for her to be given a paid sick leave once the issue became public, should apologize and take "employer-employee relations" management training, the Senate's conflict of interest committee says.

The recommendation by the Conservative-dominated committee into the case of Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu comes after the Senate ethics officer found Mr. Boisvenu had violated rules in renewing the contract of Isabelle Lapointe once they were dating, later negotiating a leave of absence for her and finally pressing for it to be considered sick leave, not vacation.

The committee noted that Mr. Boisvenu first raised the issue – that he was in a relationship with Ms. Lapointe that began after he hired her in 2010 – with the Senate ethics officer a year before ultimately acting to resolve the conflict.

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"Any person in a position of authority engaged in a personal relationship with a subordinate must take immediate measures to change the direct reporting relationship. In this case, it was only when the matter received media attention in March 2013 that measures were finally taken to change the employment relationship with Senator Boisvenu," the committee's report, released Monday, said.

The committee recommended the Senate call on Mr. Boisvenu to apologize for the breaches identified by Senate ethics officer Lyse Ricard; for not having "promptly remedied the real or apparent conflict"; and for the "resulting impact on the public confidence and trust" in the Senate. The committee is recommending Mr. Boisvenu take "at his expense" a course to "ensure proper understanding of the fundamentals of contemporary management of employer-employee relations in a public institution."

The committee accepted Ms. Ricard's findings, and said Mr. Boisvenu told the committee "now he would handle the situation differently." Its recommendations will be considered by the Senate when its sitting resumes next month. Mr. Boisvenu's office said he would not be commenting on the committee report, which said he was "forthright during his appearance and answered all questions put to him."

Ms. Ricard's report, released two months ago, found that Mr. Boisvenu breached Sections 8 and 9 of the conflict of interest code for senators.

However, Ms. Ricard found "no evidence" Ms. Lapointe was given special treatment during approximately 2 1/2 years in Mr. Boisvenu's office, during which the "on and off" relationship began.

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