OTTAWA — Despite its million-dollar budget, the Senate ethics office did not publish a single inquiry report in 2018.
Three ethics inquiries remain ongoing. The most recent, announced last March, is a probe into allegations Sen. Lynn Beyak breached the ethics code by posting letters on her Senate website supportive of her view that residential schools had positive impacts on people's lives.
The second relates to allegations Sen. Victor Oh broke the upper chamber's rules when he failed to disclose that he had accepted an all-expense paid trip in April 2017 to visit Beijing and the Chinese province of Fujian paid for by Chinese airlines, the provincial Chinese governments and Chinese business groups. That probe was launched more than a year ago.
The third outstanding inquiry explores claims of workplace harassment raised by employees of disgraced former senator Don Meredith, which was initiated in late 2017. The Senate ethics office temporarily suspended the probe at the request of the police before announcing its resumption in April.
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Senate Ethics Officer Pierre Legault is a part-time appointee who is charged with conducting inquiries, overseeing the disclosure process, and offering advice to senators. His office's funding was increased from $926,000 in 2017 to just over a million dollars in 2018.
When asked by HuffPost Canada what activities the Senate ethics officer had been up to in the past year, his office declined to answer, saying: "We refer you to our 2017-18 Annual Report for information on the activities of the Senate Ethics Officer."
The report suggests Legault has "placed much efforts" on modernizing the office, improving processes to help the "changing needs of senators and align with emerging technologies."
The office's new 2018-2019 report will be issued after March 31.
Several senators and Senate staff said Legault kept busy training new members of the upper house on the red chamber's ethics code. There were 19 new senators appointed last year.
Legault spent six months as the interim Senate ethics officer before receiving a permanent seven-year appointment in December 2017.