TORONTO -- Social media has been filled with speculation about the relationship between RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and Finance Minister Bill Morneau, after rumours began circulating that Lucki was married to Morneau’s cousin. But both the RCMP and Morneau’s campaign have said the allegations are false.

The claim

Claims that Lucki’s husband, Ray Gauthier, is related to Morneau first surfaced in mid-August, but garnered more attention on social media after the writ dropped on Sept. 11.

By mid-September, several memes suggesting Gauthier was Morneau’s cousin began appearing on both Twitter and Facebook.

The most popular version of the meme, featuring pictures of Lucki, Morneau, and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, reads, “Brenda is married to Bill Morneau’s cousin, and was directly appointed to her position by Justin Trudeau.”

It continues, “The SNC-Lavalin obstruction of justice file just happens to be in her sandbox.”

In one instance, the meme garnered more than 3,300 shares after being posted by the “Alberta Canada Campaign” Facebook page.

The rumour has sparked allegations that Lucki’s alleged relation to Morneau would cause a conflict of interest in a potential investigation into the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Analysis

This claim is false.

In an email to CTV News, an RCMP spokesperson said Wednesday, “We have confirmed and the Commissioner’s husband is not related to Finance Minister Bill Morneau.”

When asked if Morneau was related to Lucki by marriage or otherwise, a spokesperson for Morneau’s campaign told CTV News, “These allegations are false.”

Several versions of the meme note that Lucki was “directly appointed to her position by Justin Trudeau.” While the Trudeau named Lucki as commissioner, a 10-person committee was tasked with coming up with a list of qualified candidates for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale’s consideration.

However, had Lucki been related to Morneau by marriage or otherwise, experts say it would indeed have been a conflict of interest.

“The standard is appearance in a conflict of interest. The commissioner would have had to recuse herself from any decision making about the investigation [if they had been related],” Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, told CTVNews.ca by phone from Ottawa Wednesday.

“When it’s the commissioner, the top person, it raises questions about the whole RCMP. People under her would share her appearance of conflict because she has power over them.”

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