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Finance minister visits Algonquin College

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau stopped by Algonquin College for a visit on Wednesday, but few people knew about it.

Morneau, now under fire by the Official Opposition, the NDP and media for possible ethics violations, joined a culinary class during the noon hour Nov. 29 to try his hand at cooking and to speak to some students on the importance of education.

But unlike in previous visits by politicians, the media was not invited to cover the event.

Photos and a video tweeted by Algonquin College showed a smiling Morneau cooking a roast beef meal with hospitality students. He was joined by Algonquin President Cheryl Jensen and Anita Vandenbeld, the Liberal MP for Ottawa West-Nepean.

He also spent some time talking with Joan Bailey, an Algonquin graduate who had left her career in the financial sector to pursue an HVAC technician diploma, according to a post on Algonquin’s website.

“So many Canadians face the challenge of what they are going to do in their next career,” Morneau told Bailey, according to the post. “You don’t need to be locked into doing one thing. When one door closes, another one opens.”

Algonquin’s public relations department told the Algonquin Times that Morneau’s visit was closed to media.

“This was a private visit to the College,” wrote Ruth Dunley, Algonquin’s manager of communications in an email. “There was no announcement and media were not invited.”

Typically when a politician visits the public relations department sends an advisory to journalists, including the Times, to invite them to cover it. Morneau’s visit last March was open to media.

Morneau is embroiled in a political scandal over alleged ethics violations. His visit on Wednesday coincided with a call by Andrew Scheer, Conservative leader, for Morneau’s resignation.

Conservatives are pressing Morneau over a sale of 680,000 stocks in his family company, Morneau Sheppell, a week before the Liberals introduced a bill to raise taxes on high earners.

Morneau is also facing an investigation by the federal ethics commissioner over a possible conflict-of-interest that stems from his failure to put investments into a blind trust after taking office in 2015.

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