Federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion goes on extended medical leave

OTTAWA — Federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion is taking a prolonged leave from his job for health reasons.

Dion was appointed as the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner a little over a year ago.

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Melanie Rushworth, the director of communications in Dion's office, says in a statement that "despite these exceptional circumstances" the work of the office will continue.

Dion has been in the spotlight in recent weeks as he heads up one of two parliamentary probe's into allegations Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or staff in his office unduly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in a criminal prosecution of Quebec engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

Dion told NDP MPs Charlie Angus and Nathan Cullen in a letter one month ago that he would look into whether anyone violated rules prohibiting public office holders from using their position to influence decisions that could further another person's private interests.

Rushworth did not name the SNC-Lavalin investigation in her statement, but said information will continue to be gathered in all ongoing cases.

She says Dion will resume his work as soon as he is able and requested privacy for him and his family.

Dion is a former legal adviser to a number of government bodies and also served as the public sector integrity commissioner. He is also a former chairman of the Immigration and Refugee Board and the National Parole Board.

Dion has publicly pushed for his office to have greater powers to impose penalties against cabinet ministers and public office holders who violate conflict rules, including the ability to levy fines of up to $10,000.

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