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News | 09/18/2003 4:00 am EDT

Charles Boyer has taken an unpaid leave of absence from his job as VP of external and government relations at the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) amid media reports that he spent over $30,000 of taxpayers’ money dining at many of Ottawa’s finest restaurants while he was at Canadian Heritage. "I took this action (requesting an unpaid leave of absence) so that I may be free to deal with the matter of expenses incurred by me in my previous role as executive assistant to the minister of Canadian Heritage, the Hon. Sheila Copps," he said in a written statement released Sept. 17 by the CAB. "As this has nothing to do with my current position, I want to ensure that the important work of the association is not hindered in any way." He notes in the media release that with regard to the expenses, it is his "sincere understanding that (government) guidelines were followed." Boyer’s appointment announced during the summer also stirred controversy as he was moving to the CAB, which has extensive dealings with Canadian Heritage. Under federal conflict-of-interest guidelines for civil servants, senior political aides to ministers are not supposed to take positions with companies or organizations with which they have had "direct and significant dealings" for a one-year cooling-off period. Ethics counsellor Howard Wilson allowed the appointment but guidelines he gave Boyer required him not to lobby Canadian Heritage for at least a year. At the time, the CAB said it had other assignments for Boyer. He has been in the CAB position only since August 26 (CCR, July 17/03).

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