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Ethics commissioner rules Palantir’s MacNaughton broke conflict-of-interest rules, orders top federal officials to cease contact

OTTAWA — Palantir Canada president David MacNaughton broke conflict-of-interest rules by offering the data-mining company’s services to the federal government as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion ruled Wednesday. The watchdog also ordered nine top government officials to “restrict their official dealings” with the former Canadian ambassador to the U.S.

The watchdog’s ruling covers Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, and senior staff and civil servants in several departments as well as the Prime Minister’s Office, for a period of one year.

In June, Dion’s office launched an investigation into whether the ex-ambassador and counselor to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had breached conflict-of-interest rules, prompted by a letter from NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus after The Logic reported that MacNaughton had said Palantir was working with the federal government and several provinces on their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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