What is it with Liberal Members of Parliament? Do they honestly believe the rules don’t apply to them?
That’s the question at the top of my mind after news broke that Yasmin Ratansi, Member of Parliament for Don Valley East, hired her sister, Zeenat Khatri, and lied about it.
CBC reports Yasmin Ratansi employed her sister from 2005 to 2011 when Ratansi lost her seat in Parliament, the hired her again in 2017 after she regained her seat in Parliament.
At that point she clearly knew about the revised definition of immediate family, since “Ratansi and Khatri told staff to call her ‘Jenny’ rather than Zeenat — a name she hadn’t used in the office before. CBC News has seen one business card bearing the name ‘Jenny Khatri.'”
“If Ratansi honestly didn’t know that paying her sister with her MP budget broke rules, why use a fake identity and ask staff to keep it hush-hush?” asked Pierre Poilievre.
The answer seems obvious, even for an ethically-challenged Liberal like Ratansi.
The rules are for mere citizens, not Liberals.
“Yasmin told us explicitly — my sister will be coming to work in our office,” said a former employee. “She was going to assume a different name, so she was going to be referred to as Jenny. The idea was we bring her in but try to conceal her identity, keep her hidden, keep her tucked away so that people don’t find out that her sister is employed in the office.”
Yasmin Ratansi posted a statement on Facebook resigning from the Liberal caucus (since removed) that stated, in part:
“Last week, I referred this matter to the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, and I shall follow his recommendations on how I might remediate the situation.”
“I made an error in judgment by employing my sister in my constituency office, and I have remedied the situation, but this does not excuse the error I made.”
An error in judgement is hiring your sister when you don’t know it violates government hiring policy.
Intentional deception is knowing hiring your sister violates government hiring policy, doing it anyway and instructing others to lie about it.
There a big difference between an error in judgement, like wearing BlackFace so many times you can’t remember and ordering staff to call your sister – who you identify to staff as your sister – “Jenny” instead of Zeenat – her real name.
“I am deeply disappointed by the news I heard yesterday from Ms. Yatansi,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Deeply disappointed by the news she got caught, Mr. Prime Minister, or deeply disappointed to learn her ethical failings match your own?
Board of Internal Economy Member Bylaws
Members of Parliament are prohibited from hiring immediate family, which the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy Bylaws defines as:
a Member’s father, mother, brother, sister, spouse and children, as well as the spouses and children of the Member’s children.
The prohibition against hiring siblings came into force in 2012.