After a period of several months with the role largely unoccupied, Konrad Winrich von Finckenstein has been appointed as the interim Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. He will serve a six-month term.
The previous ethics watchdog, Mario Dion, retired in February. Martine Richard stepped in temporarily in April but resigned a few weeks later amid criticism. Richard is the sister-in-law of Liberal cabinet minister Dominic LeBlanc, a point of contention that led to her resignation.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had defended Richard’s appointment, stating that she had been a senior official in the ethics commissioner’s office for over a decade and had previously filled in for Dion during his medical leave.
The absence of a commissioner has had a significant impact, according to Dion. He told The Canadian Press that the vacant role led to halted investigations and potentially allowed violations to go unobserved. He also mentioned that the delay in selecting a qualified candidate was understandable, given the specific requirements for the position.
Von Finckenstein brings a wealth of experience to the role. Carleton University, where he serves on the board of governors, describes him as having an “extensive government and judicial career.” He was the chief counsel during the Canada-U.S. free trade negotiations and was instrumental in the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. His past roles also include serving as the commissioner of the Competition Bureau and as a justice of the Federal Court.
In recognition of his contributions, Von Finckenstein was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2022.