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PM's former communications director, Tory aide fined for ethics violations
Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson has fined the prime minister’s former director of communications and another Conservative ministerial aide for violations of federal ethics rules.
Sandra Buckler, who served in the top communication’s job when the Harper government introduced its overhaul of the federal ethics regime in 2006, was cited for failure to provide a timely confidential report on her personal holdings, as required under the Conflict of Interest Act.
Buckler oversaw a period of often frosty relations between the Prime Minister’s Office and journalists before leaving in 2008. She served as an advisor to Frank Klees's unsuccessful bid for leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives then returned to the Hill this summer as chief of staff to Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan.
As a member of Van Loan’s political “exempt staff,” Buckler is required to provide the ethics commissioner with written disclosures of assets, liabilities and activities that might put her in a conflict of interest.
According to documents posted on the ethics commissioner’s website Monday, Buckler was levied a fine of $100 for failing to complete the confidential disclosure within 30 days of taking the job. Her disclosure has since been filed.
Dawson has the discretion to hand-out administrative penalties of up to $500 for violations of the Conflict of Interest Act.
Also fined was Rebecca Thompson, the director of strategic communication to Transport Minister John Baird. Baird, as Treasury Board president, acted as the government’s point man on its centerpiece Federal Accountability Act in 2006.