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List of political scandals in Canada

This is a list of major political scandals in Canada.



Scandal Description Associated Groups Year
Pacific Scandal Allegations of bribes being taken by the government of Sir John A. Macdonald.[1] Conservative Party 1870s
King-Byng Affair Scandal in the Department of Customs and Excise, leading to a constitutional crisis. Liberal Party 1926
Munsinger Affair Canada's first national political sex scandal.[2] Progressive Conservative Party 1960s
The Fuddle duddle incident Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was accused of "using un-parliamentary langauge". Liberal Party 1971
Harbourgate The federal government hired a firm to dredge Hamilton Harbour. The subsequent investigation revealed that there were $300,000 in kickbacks to Ken Elliot, the Harbour Commissioner and $4M in unnecessary work. Elliot and his accountant were charged with fraud and served prison time. One of Trudeau's cabinet ministers (John Munro) tendered a resignation, but it was not accepted. He and others under investigation were ultimately exonerated. Liberal Party 1974
Francis Fox Newly appointed Solicitor General, Francis Fox forged the signature of his mistress' husband in order to obtain an abortion. He was forced to step down but later resumed his political career. Liberal Party 1978
Tunagate Tainted tuna. Progressive Conservative Party 1985
Grant Bristow Canadian Security Intelligence Service infiltration of Nationalist Party of Canada and covert founding of far-right groups. Heritage Front 1990s
Airbus affair Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was implicated in a kickback scheme to purchase Airbus planes for Air Canada. Progressive Conservative Party 1995
APEC Inquiry Police conduct at the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vancouver. Royal Canadian Mounted Police 1997
Shawinigate An alleged conflict of interest lobbying effort by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Liberal Party 1999
Sponsorship scandal Major misuse and misdirection of funds disbursed through the Liberal government's 1990s sponsorship program. Investigated by the Gomery Commission. Liberal Party 2004
In and Out scandal Circumvention of election finance rules by the Conservatives in the 2006 election campaign. Conservative Party 2007
Couillard Affair Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier resigned after leaving sensitive NATO documents in the home of Julie Couillard, an ex-girlfriend who used to have links to the Hells Angels.[3] Conservative Party 2007
Canadian Afghan detainee issue Parliament prorogued for the second time in a single parliament, claimed to stall an inquiry into the potential maltreatment of Afghanistan War detainees. Conservative Party 2010
Robocall scandal Allegations of widespread voter fraud occurring during the 2011 Canadian federal election. Deceptive robotic and live calls were made to voters in multiple ridings, in contravention of Elections Canada rules. Conservative Party 2012
ETS scandal Alleged wrongdoing by Canadian government officials in the award of a $400-million information technology services contract. Conservative Party 2000s
F-35 scandal Involved misleading costs of F-35 fighter jets to replace former CF-18s. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was found to be in contempt of parliament for refusing to share information on the procurement. Conservative Party 2012
CFIA scandal Controversy surrounding food inspection services being insufficient after budget cuts and the temporary closure of XL Foods, due to a widespread E-coli outbreak in Alberta.[4] Canadian Food Inspection Agency 2012
Canadian Senate expenses scandal An investigation concerning the expense claims of certain Canadian senators. Senators Mike Duffy, Mac Harb, Pamela Wallin, Patrick Brazeau and others claimed travel and housing expenses from the Senate for which they were not eligible.[5] Senate of Canada 2012
SNC-Lavalin affair Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion investigation into the allegation that the Prime Minister's Office interfered with the Justice Department's probe of Quebec construction giant SNC-Lavalin by pressuring former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to consider a deferred prosecution agreement.[6] Minister of Veterans Affairs Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from Justin Trudeau's cabinet, she was the Attorney General at the time of the alleged interference.[7][8] Gerald Butts, the Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau categorically denied the accusation and resigned.[6] Jane Philpott resigned as President of the Treasury Board, she was one of Justin Trudeau's most trusted ministers.[9] Liberal Party 2019


British ColumbiaEdit

  • Sommers Affair (British Columbia Social Credit Party) - influence peddling and abuse of privilege on timber licenses by Forest Minister
  • Gracie's Finger (BC Social Credit Party) - gerrymandering in Vancouver-Little Mountain
  • Lillooet Cattle Trail - cost overruns, poor design and other scandalous aspects on most expensive provincial infrastructure project in the 19th century
  • Solidarity Crisis - crisis was launched by Premier Bill Bennett overstaying his mandate, triggering a constitutional crisis
  • Fantasy Gardens (BC Social Credit Party) - improper sale of property and influence-peddling by Premier Bill Vander Zalm, in connection with Asian gambling lord Tan Yu
  • Stephen Rogers (BC Social Credit Party) - resigned as environment minister after a conflict of interest due to owning shares in a company[11]
  • Cliff Michael (BC Social Credit Party) - resigned from cabinet due to conflict of interest over the sale of some land[11]
  • Reid affair (BC Social Credit Party) - Bill Reid forced to resign after a report showed that he was diverting lottery funds into a company owned by his former campaign manager
  • Bud Smith (BC Social Credit Party) - resigned after tapes and transcripts of him talking disparagingly about a lawyer hired by the opposition NDP to investigate the Reid Affair
  • Robin Blencoe (New Democratic Party of British Columbia) - allegations of harassing an office employee [12]
  • Phil Gaglardi (BC Social Credit Party) - improper use of expenses
  • British Columbia Resources Investment Corporation (BCRIC or "Brick") (BC Social Credit Party) - public boondoggle involving publicly distributed and soon-worthless shares of former Crown Corporation
  • Bingogate (New Democratic Party of BC) - skimming of charity funds (1990s)
  • Doman Scandal (BC Social Credit Party) - insider trading; Premier Bill Bennett and his brother Russell James Bennett had trading sanctions imposed against them and Harbanse Singh Doman, and were ordered to pay the British Columbia Securities Commission $1 million to cover the costs of an insider trading case that spanned 11 years[13]
  • Coquihalla Highway (BC Social Credit Party) - cost overruns and graft
  • Casinogate (New Democratic Party of BC) - Premier Glen Clark was charged but acquitted of breach of trust in connection with his official duties.[14] Collusion between Global television and the RCMP in trying to incriminate Clark is alleged by many commentators. Dimitros Pilarinos was convicted of providing a benefit to the Premier, and the BC Conflict of Interest Commissioner concluded "Receipt of such a benefit left Mr. Clark, albeit perhaps unwillingly, indebted to Mr. Pilarinos and meant that he might properly be considered to have an interest in seeing Mr. Pilarinos compensated in some way." [15]
  • FastCat Fiasco (aka "Ferrygate" or simply "the Fast Ferries") - 1990s construction of a fleet of high speed ferry vessels that ended up being massively over-budget and actually slower than existing ferries
  • Gordon Wilson-Judy Tyabji Affair (British Columbia Liberal Party) - semi-secret romance between the Opposition Leader and his House Whip leads to their downfall
  • BC Legislature Raids ("Railgate") (BC Liberal Party) - raids on offices of senior political aides in the legislature connected to everything from marijuana grow-ops to allegations of influence peddling and money laundering in the sale of BC Rail to Canadian National.
  • Gordon Campbell (BC Premier, arrested in Hawaii for DUI) (Liberals). Also implicated in Railgate (see previous).
  • Quick Wins ethnic outreach scandal (BC Liberal Party) - 2013 resignation of Minister John Yap and Deputy Chief of Staff for Premier Christy Clark due to use of public servants' time and resources for partisan purposes

New BrunswickEdit

Nova ScotiaEdit

  • The Thornhill Affair - involved Roland Thornhill, who resigned as Deputy Premier in the 1990s after allegations dealing with a debt settlement from 1980 was brought into question.
  • The Billy Joe MacLean Affair(The BJM Affair) - MLA Billy Joe MacLean was expelled from the Assembly after Premier John Buchanan's Progressive Conservative government introduced legislation prohibiting anyone from sitting in the assembly who had been convicted of an indictable offence punishable by imprisonment for more than five years. MacLean pleaded guilty to four counts of submitting forged documents - went to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, which upheld Macleans expulsion, but declared the law that prohibited him from running as a candidate to be unconstitutional - MacLean was re-elected in a by-election in 1987. He was subsequently defeated in the 1988 general election by Danny Graham (Liberal).[16]


  • Ontario Bond Scandal - United Farmers of Ontario (early 1920s)
  • Dionne quintuplets—circus-like atmosphere in which the girls were reared and exploited during early childhood.
  • Patti Starr scandal in the late 1980s - illegal use of charitable funds for political campaigns donations
  • Ipperwash Crisis - incident involving the shooting death of Dudley George, an unarmed Native activist, by an Ontario Provincial Police officer in 1995 which led to the Ipperwash Inquiry[17]
  • Kimberly Rogers - After a welfare fraud conviction, Rogers committed suicide in her Sudbury apartment while under house arrest in 2001, leading to extensive controversy around the Mike Harris government's 1996 welfare reforms, as well as an inquest which made several still-unimplemented recommendations for changes to the system.
  • Toronto Computer Leasing Inquiry - judicial inquiry into improper computer leasing contracts made by Toronto's municipal government in 1999
  • Walkerton water scandal in 2000
  • Hells Angels come to Toronto and are welcomed by Mayor Mel Lastman. 2002.
  • Toronto Police Drug Scandal - multiple scandals broke out in early 2004, as a result of internal affairs and RCMP investigations. Allegations of the sale of narcotics, fake search warrants, raid tip-offs and mob gambling debts involved many dozens of Toronto police officers, including former chief William J. McCormack's son, Michael, who was eventually brought up on 23 charges. As a result of the scandal, the plainclothes downtown unit which many of the charged officers worked out of was disbanded. The court cases relating to these charges continue.
  • ORNGE - Air Ambulance Scandal - In 2011 Ornge was involved in a controversy regarding executives compensation, including President and CEO Chris Mazza. Mazza went on an indefinite medical leave on 22 December 2011 at the height of the scandal. The Toronto Star uncovered that Mazza was receiving $1.4 million a year while remaining off the sunshine list of public employees earning over $100,000. That salary made him the highest publicly paid official in the province. Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews stated that Mazza’s salary was "outrageous, shocking and unacceptable". Ornge Global, Ornge's for-profit division, also received $6.7 million in a contract from Anglo-Italian helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland, which is also part of the audit by the provincial auditor general. On 16 February 2012 Ornge formally became the subject of an Ontario Provincial Police investigation for "financial irregularities".
  • Ontario power plant scandal - In 2011, plans to construct a gas-fired power plant in an environmentally sensitive area of Mississauga had some residents up in arms. After weeks of continual protest from concerned community activists in Mississauga and Oakville, the Ontario Liberals decided to cancel the gas plants. NDP MPPs claimed the decision was not motivated by environmental concerns but rather political ones.[18]
  • Rob Ford crack video scandal - May 2013




  1. ^ "Lesson 25: The Pacific Scandal". CBC. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  2. ^ "The Munsinger Affair". CBC. 18 March 1966. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  3. ^ Archived from [/ the original] Check |url= value (help) on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2013. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Senate scandal could be putting Harper's brand at risk | CBC News". CBC. Retrieved 2018-11-24.
  6. ^ a b "Full Statement: Gerald Butts' resignation letter | Ottawa Citizen". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  7. ^ "Trudeau says he has 'confidence' in Wilson-Raybould as ethics commissioner probes PMO over SNC-Lavalin | CBC News". CBC. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  8. ^ "Canada minister Jody Wilson-Raybould resigns amid SNC-Lavalin affair | BBC News". BBC. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  9. ^ "Statement from the Hon. Jane Philpott | The House of Commons". Hon. Jane Philpott. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  10. ^ The UFA (newspaper), March 1, 1922
  11. ^ a b Justine Hunter (1991-09-24). "Scandal, retirement take toll on politicians seeking re-election". the Vancouver Sun. p. B7.
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^
  14. ^ BC Supreme Court "Reasons for Judgment"
  16. ^ [2] Canadian Parliamentary Review, "The Legislature, Charter and Billy Joe MacLean"
  17. ^ "The Ipperwash Inquiry". CBC News. Archived from the original on January 9, 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  18. ^ Global News - A timeline of the cancelled Mississauga and Oakville power plants
  19. ^ Confused about the GTH land deal? Here's a short explainer video