NDP Labour Critic Yvon Godin has sent a letter to the Ethics Commissioner asking for an investigation into the appearance of a conflict of interest between Labour Minister Lisa Raitt and Air Canada. 

To view a copy of the letter, scroll down to the bottom of this story.

On Wednesday CityNews reported on an internal Air Canada document apparently showing a confirmed upgrade to business class for Raitt, authorized by the airline’s Chief Operating Officer Duncan Dee.  Dee is also responsible for Air Canada’s government relations.

Dee’s name appeared on Raitt’s passenger record for a September 25, Toronto – Ottawa flight.

The timing of the upgrade is also being questioned.

On September 19, Raitt threatened Air Canada employees with back-to-work legislation.

“How can the Minister claim to be impartial in this labour dispute when she is being given perks from Air Canada’s management?” asked Godin. “Conservatives pick winners and losers in collective bargaining and pass laws to take away bargaining rights from employees. They are making labour relations worse through their heavy-handed actions.”

“This is just another example of a government that believes there’s one set of rules for them and another for everyone else.”

Raitt denies any allegations of special treatment.

“When I use upgrades I utilize my own, my electronic upgrades. I don’t know what that’s about…My instruction to staff is to utilize whatever upgrades I have. I travel a lot, I have a lot of electronic upgrades and that’s the stuff that we use so I actually don’t know what that is at all,” she said.

On Thursday night, the Minister’s office sent CityNews an email from a travel agent which they say is proof that Raitt used her own upgrade points for the flight.

But Godin’s letter is asking for a full investigation.  “To fairly deal with a labour dispute like this one, it is essential the Minister of Labour maintain a position of neutrality that permits her to play the role of honest broker,” his letter, released Friday, reads. 

“I believe that if proven true, accepting free gifts from Air Canada’s Chief Operating Officer would compromise the Labour Minister’s ability to mediate this dispute without bias.”

To contact Francis D’Souza email him at francis.dsouza@citynews.rogers.com and follow him on Twitter @CityFrancis

Godin letter to Ethics Commissioner