Former fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc was in a conflict of interest in the Arctic surf clam controversy, the federal ethics commissioner has ruled.

LeBlanc was shuffled out of the fisheries portfolio this summer without explanation. The new minister, Jonathan Wilkinson, then quietly announced that the deal to transfer 25 per cent of Clearwater’s surf clam quota to the Five Nations Clam Company had been cancelled.

The deal caused outrage in Grand Bank, where Clearwater processed the quota.

The ethics commissioner said a first cousin of LeBlanc’s spouse could have benefited financially from the licence. The commissioner ruled that LeBlanc violated the Conflict of Interest Act, which requires public office holders to recuse themselves from such situations.