Rock apologizes for free holiday

Industry Minister Allan Rock flip-flopped yesterday and admitted an ethical breach when he accepted a free flight and vacation from the Irving family two years ago. He apologized to the Commons but refused to resign.

The Toronto Star
October 23, 2003

Rock apologizes for free holiday
Admits mistake accepting Irving hospitality. Refuses to resign, saying no conflict of interest.
Tonda Maccharles

OTTAWA—Industry Minister Allan Rock flip-flopped yesterday and admitted an ethical breach when he accepted a free flight and vacation from the Irving family two years ago. He apologized to the Commons but refused to resign.

"It was a mistake not to declare the trip at the time. In fact, it was a mistake to go on the trip," Rock said. "I apologize to members of the House, to my colleagues and to Canadians."

But the Toronto minister continued to insist he never put himself in a direct conflict of interest on government files involving the wealthy Irving family interests. In a longer written statement, Rock said he had a "lapse in judgment" and had never tried to deliberately skirt the ethics rules.

Since as health minister he had no official dealings with the Irvings, Rock didn't consider the all-expenses-paid trip in the summer of 2001 something he ought to declare. It simply never "crossed my mind at the time," he said.

Rock's apology came after days of intense political heat in the Commons, and 24 hours after another federal minister, New Brunswick regional minister Claudette Bradshaw, quickly admitted her error in taking a free flight from the Irving family after a reporter questioned her.

Moments after Rock's apology, another federal cabinet member, Fisheries Minister Robert Thibault, revealed he, too, had spent a night at the Irving fishing lodge while in New Brunswick on government business a couple of years ago. Thibault told reporters he recently spoke with federal ethics counsellor Howard Wilson to confirm he hadn't broken any rules by accepting the Irvings' hospitality.


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