Cabinet Minister Tony Clement has a bad habit of getting caught up in conflicts of interest.
A while back he recorded a video commercial endorsement for a Huntsville manufacturer of solvents and cleaning products who wanted to use the ad to make a breakthrough in China.
Seeing a Canadian government minister praising Lord & Partners soaps and solvents must have greatly impressed the millions of Chinese who saw the ad.
What was most bizarre is that the Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson gave her blessing. After all, she said later, Clement did not receive any pecuniary compensation.
Except the law on conflict of interest clearly states ministers cannot not help a commercial firm in their own riding over others elsewhere in Canada.
And now soap manufacturers elsewhere in the country can insist that Clement do soap commercials for them too.
Clement would make a good soap salesman. He was a used car salesman before he got into politics.
But what kind of example does he give to other ministers?
Can Defence Minister Peter MacKay sell armored cars manufactured in his riding?
What about Vic Toews endorsing safer guns manufactured in Manitoba?
Or Christian Paradis doing a commercial for Marcel Aubut's hunting lodge?
Imagine Stephen Harper in front of a Tim Hortons in telling us: 'Do like me and start your days with a good, hot cup of Tim Hortons! "
That's why there's a law against commercial endorsements by ministers.