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February 1, 2002

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Watchdog asked to investigate Eves

A Liberal backbencher has asked Ontario's ethics watchdog to investigate whether former finance minister Ernie Eves had a conflict of interest while handling politicians' pensions. About 300 sitting and former MPPs were given excessively generous tax-sheltered retirement funds to compensate them when the provincial Conservatives ended their previous plan. A request to investigate someone as powerful as Eves, front-runner in the race to become the next Tory leader and premier of Ontario, will test the mettle of the commission, says SFU political science professor Patrick Smith. He says ethics watchdogs at the provincial level are a relatively recent invention. While more independent than the federal ethics counsellor, they often lack resources. “Unlike here in B.C., an office like Ontario's just hasn't faced the big ethical questions, such as ‘Is the premier a crook?'” says Smith.

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