Prime minister’s wife sells off entire stock portfolio
OTTAWA — An ethics disclosure filed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper shows that his wife Laureen liquidated her entire portfolio of stock market investments late last year.
The prime minister last month amended a disclosure of assets and liabilities he had filed with Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson and removed its reference to his wife’s investments.
Previous versions of Harper’s MP disclosure said his wife held an “investment account with Raymond James Ltd. partly composed of publicly traded securities.”
That line item was not found in an updated December 8 version of the document, which lists no other declarable assets - Harper’s disclosure did not itemize the individual stocks his wife owned.
“Mrs. Harper’s updated disclosure reflects the fact this account was liquidated,” explained Andrew MacDougall, Harper’s director of communications.
MacDougall did not respond to a follow-up email asking why she had suddenly sold off her portfolio at a time when the economy is still recovering from a deep recession.
The prime minister declared no stock investments of his own, suggesting that those made in his wife’s name may effectively be joint assets. The disclosure notes that the Harpers share a joint line of credit from the Bank of Nova Scotia.
In October, the Prime Minister’s Office declined a Citizen request to provide a list of equities in Laureen Harper’s portfolio. The PMO also refused to say whether any of her stocks were among the resource sector companies that would be affected by her husband’s decision on foreign investments by China’s CNOOC and Malayasia’s Petronas.
It is unclear whether Laureen Harper simply saw last year’s rise in stock prices as a good time to cash in her portfolio or if the move was made in response to the Citizen story pointing out the apparent loophole in the ethics rules.
Under an agreement with ethics commissioner, Harper is required to step aside from any decision involving Talisman Energy, where his brother Grant works as an accountant.