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Lobbyist husband of senior defence aide quits job to avoid conflict of interest

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has argued that certain offenders who commit violent crimes should be subject to different rules that could keep them detained for significantly longer periods of time.

A senior Ottawa lobbyist has resigned from his firm in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest after his wife became the chief of staff to the Minister of National Defence.

Rick Morgan, a long-time Conservative insider, was vice-president of Tactix Government Relations and Public Affairs, a lobbying firm with a number of clients in the defence industry.

However, Mr. Morgan's position caused an ethical headache for his wife, Maureen Murphy, who followed Rob Nicholson to National Defence in last week's cabinet shuffle.

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"Ms. Murphy advised the Minister [Monday] that her spouse Rick Morgan had resigned from his position as Vice President for Tactix Government Relations Inc. effective July 22nd, 2013," said Geneviève Breton, a spokeswoman for Mr. Nicholson.

Mr. Morgan worked with a number of clients including Pratt & Whitney, an aerospace giant that provides the engines for the F-35 fighter jets.

The replacement of Canada's fleet of CF-18s is one of the biggest challenges facing the Harper government, and it is likely that Ms. Murphy would have had to recuse herself from the matter given her husband's interest in the outcome of the decision.

Ms. Murphy had been in discussions with the Ethics Commissioner, and the Prime Minister's Office told The Globe and Mail that the matter could be handled with an updated "ethical wall."

However, the couple opted for another course of action, namely Mr. Morgan's exit from the lobbying industry.

"Ms. Murphy and Mr. Morgan both felt strongly that this was the appropriate course of action as a result of last week's cabinet shuffle," Ms. Breton added.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Daniel Leblanc studied political science at the University of Ottawa and journalism at Carleton University. He became a full-time reporter in 1998, first at the Ottawa Citizen and then in the Ottawa bureau of The Globe and Mail. More

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