Housing Minister Ahmed Hussen said his office “followed all the rules” when hiring a company with family ties to a staff member working in his office.
He also said he was ‘satisfied with the services’ and when asked did not rule out using the company in the future and repeated that he was ‘satisfied with the services’.
“MPs are authorized and authorized to pay for services, including communications services,” Hussen said, speaking to PKBNEWS outside the federal cabinet retreat on Thursday.
“We have followed all the rules of the House of Commons Financial Management Office, as well as checked with the Office of the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Commissioner and all services have been made public.”
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PKBNEWS reported Thursday that Hussen’s office awarded $93,050 in communications contracts to Munch More Media, a Toronto-based company that focuses on the food and restaurant industry. Taxpayers’ money came from his constituency office budget, not his departmental budget.
The company’s director, Hiba Tariq, is the sister of political director and close adviser to Hussen, Tia Tariq.
PKBNEWS asked the Ethics Commissioner’s office whether it indeed approved the decision of Minister Hussen’s office to award contracts to Munch More Media and whether the commissioner was aware of the family connection between Tia and Hiba Tariq.
A spokesperson for the bureau said it could not respond to questions from PKBNEWS, explaining that any advice it provides is confidential, as are any requests for advice received by the bureau.
On Friday, PKBNEWS reported that Marci Ien, now Minister for Women and Gender Equality, also donated $10,000 in contracts from her constituency budget to Munch More Media in 2021.
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He was not a minister at the time. The Lobby Registry listed Tia Tariq as director of policy in Ien’s office at the time, but Ien’s office said in a statement to PKBNEWS that this was incorrect and that she did not work for Ien. .
“I know the Minister has spoken about it and will continue to answer questions about it. My concern is that the rules are still followed, but also that MPs continue to prioritize connecting and communicating with Canadians,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a Monday news conference in Hamilton. .
“It is the responsibility of every MP to ensure they communicate and connect with their citizens, and we expect that to be done.”
He added: ‘The minister makes sure he answers our questions about it and we make sure all the rules are followed.’
MPs are allowed to spend constituency funds – which ultimately come from the taxpayer – on outside communications work. But a PKBNEWS analysis of cabinet ministers’ constituency spending shows Hussen is just one of three ministers who have spent a significant amount of public money on outside PR assistance in recent months. .
Munch More Media Inc. is a Toronto-based public relations firm specializing in promoting the restaurant and foodservice industry. It’s unclear, outside of what PKBNEWS reported last week, if he has any experience in political communications.
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