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Morneau faces more questions despite promise to sell shares, use blind trust

One day after he promised to sell off at least $21 million worth of family assets, Finance Minister Bill Morneau is facing still more questions over how he handled his personal fortune when he entered government in 2015.

In hope of quieting conflict of interest accusations, the former businessman has said he would unload about one million shares in the family business, called Morneau Shepell, that he helped build over 25 years.

But despite his efforts — he also promised to place his other substantial personal assets in a blind trust — the controversy refused to die Friday during a media event in Waterloo, Ont.

Morneau continued to insist that he followed the advice of the ethics commissioner to the letter after he was elected and reject any suggestions he has been in a conflict of interest.

However, in a couple of responses Friday he appeared to show some impatience as he fielded more questions about his credibility and personal finances. Similar queries had already followed him all week.

At one point, he was asked why he owned and controlled several numbered companies.

“So, is the question why they’re numbered companies and they don’t have names? You know, seriously,” said Morneau.

“The process we have in our country isn’t that I report to journalists on my personal situation, it’s that I report to the ethics commissioner and I make sure that she fully understands my situation.”

He said on the advice of ethics commissioner Mary Dawson he set up a conflict-of-interest screen to ensure he abstained from any discussions or decisions that could benefit his personal interests.

Morneau was in Waterloo to announce government plans to work with the venture capital and angel investment sectors to address concerns about Ottawa’s controversial tax proposals and ensure investment in the country’s fastest-growing companies can continue.