The chair of a federal foundation admitted this week she had voted to grant her company a $217,000 subsidy funded by taxpayers.According to Blacklock’s Reporter, Annette Verschuren, the chair of the Canada Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology, testified before the Commons Ethics committee she did not perceive it as inappropriate.“At the time of the board decision on those COVID payments, you recall it was March 2020, it was very difficult,” said Verschuren. “We were going to lose the investments that we made and the jobs.”Verschuren said she did not view this situation as a conflict of interest.“A conflict of interest is a situation where there is an interest, an influence in terms of a direct conflict,” said Verschuren. “I think you need a refresher on what a conflict of interest really means,” replied Conservative MP Larry Brock (Brantford-Brock, ON).The cabinet appointed Verschuren as the chair of the board in 2019. Sustainable Development Technology, mandated by Parliament, provides $100,000 grants for industrial research and development.Before being appointed chair, Verschuren also served as the CEO and owner of NRStor Inc. in Toronto. This storage battery company had received Sustainable Development Technology funding.“It was 18 months before,” she testified. “Eighteen months before my appointment as chair, NRStor was funded for a project, yes.”“Did you at any time you were on the board vote on any motions that would have involved your organization NRStor?” asked New Democrat MP Matthew Green (Hamilton Centre, ON). “No,” replied Verschuren.However, during a board meeting on March 20, 2020, Verschuren acknowledged she proposed granting COVID-19 relief payments to companies previously receiving Sustainable Development Technology subsidies, including her own company.“There were about 140 companies that were in pretty dire trouble,” said Verschuren.“These were all pre-revenue companies.”“Would you not agree over $200,000 of COVID funding furthers your own private interest?” asked Green.“The board considered – ” replied Verschuren.“I asked you a very direct question. I need a very direct answer. Do you not consider by moving a motion to provide $217,000 worth of funding to an organization you are the CEO of does not constitute at the very least a perceived conflict of interest if not a very real one?” asked Green.“The COVID payments were made as a portfolio of companies. All the conflicts were assumed previously declared…” replied Verschuren.“Did you recuse yourself from that vote on the COVID funding or did you move the motion?” asked Green.“I believe I moved the motion,” replied Verschuren.“You didn’t recuse yourself?” asked Green.“The, the, the, the, it wasn’t – ” replied Verschuren.“Do you regret the decision not to recuse yourself from that?” asked Green.“I took the advice from my lawyer,” replied Verschuren.Conservative MP Michael Cooper (St. Albert-Edmonton, AB) described the testimony as incredible. “Your company received preferential treatment in the sense you sat on the board and provided money to it,” said Cooper.NRStor Inc., in addition to Sustainable Development Technology grants, received a $12,430 grant from the department of foreign affairs in 2017 and $1.4 million in contracts from the department of natural resources in 2019, records show.Verschuren testified she was a political donor but did not favour one party over the other. “I contribute to the Liberal and Conservative parties on an equal basis,” she said. Elections Canada filings showed Verschuren donated $10,750 to the Liberal Party and $10,988 to the Conservative Party since 2005.