A cabinet appointee under an ethics investigation for alleged insider dealings abruptly left a Commons Industry committee hearing on Tuesday evening while being questioned.According to Blacklock’s Reporter, whistleblowers accused Annette Verschuren, a Liberal Party donor, of directing federal employees to search for grants on behalf of her non-profit Verschuren Centre.“Look, we’re entrepreneurs,” Verschuren told the committee. “We are investing in the future of our country.”On November 20, Verschuren resigned as chair of the federal foundation Sustainable Development Technology Canada. Her resignation came after she admitted to having voted to allocate $217,000 to her money-losing company.Currently, Verschuren is being investigated by the Ethics Commissioner for a suspected breach of the Conflict of Interest Act.Verschuren testified that she could not remember whether, as chair, she had also sought funding for the Verschuren Centre, a research facility located in Sydney, Nova Scotia.“Are you aware staff was told to find other financing for your Centre?” asked Conservative MP Rick Perkins (South Shore-St. Margarets, NS). “No I am not,” replied Verschuren.During her testimony via videoconference, Verschuren informed the committee that she had expertise in business matters.“I understand business,” she said. “I have been on boards for almost 30 years.”“I take responsibility in governance very seriously,” said Verschuren. “I am chair of a governance committee of a major company in Canada. I understand —.”Following this exchange, Verschuren suddenly stood up, turned off her headphones, and disconnected from the videoconference.The committee adjourned after the incident. This followed a whistleblower's testimony claiming that the Verschuren Centre relied on taxpayer subsidies.Witness Number One, a former financial compliance officer at Sustainable Development Technology, alleged that in 2021 as chair Verschuren sought millions in grants for her Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy, located on the campus of Cape Breton University, where Verschuren also serves as the chancellor.“It was brought to us by the executives to say, ‘We are now looking at the Verschuren Centre,’” said Witness Number One. Numerous employees protested, he said.“When you went through the analysis, what was the state of the Verschuren Centre at Cape Breton University at the time financially?” asked Perkins. “It would likely go bankrupt if it did not receive federal funding,” replied Witness Number One.“How much was the chair seeking for her ego project from the green slush fund?” asked Perkins.“$2.2 million,” replied Witness Number One.“Was the chair ever inquiring as to the state of the process and how it was going?” asked Perkins.“Yes, she indirectly emailed the executives or other parts of the organization to check in on the progress of the application,” replied Witness Number One.“So she was directly involved in trying to push it forward with management?” asked Perkins.“Absolutely,” replied Witness Number One.A foundation review committee “rejected it based on the conflict of interest,” said Witness Number One. However, foundation employees were ordered to “help the Verschuren Centre and move that application into other sources of funding.”“Let me get this straight,” said Perkins. “After Sustainable Development Technology Canada rejected Annette Verschuren’s $2.2 million request to fund her own Centre, then employees were told you had to go to work to help Annette Verschuren find that money somewhere else in the government?”“Using Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s reputation,” replied Witness Number One. Numerous internal emails documented the facts, he added.“Do you have copies of those?” asked Perkins. “I do,” replied Witness Number One.“Would you be able to table those with the committee?” asked Perkins. “I will,” replied Witness Number One.Records show the Verschuren Centre in 2022 received $3 million from the federal Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. It also received $1.4 million from the department of fisheries in 2022, another $70,000 from the National Research Council this past April 1, an additional $1 million from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency on September 5 and $1.18 million from the federally subsidized Canadian Food Innovation Network on September 19.