Public must demand Money controls
Snap election won't fix system at root of corruption
Public needs to demand money controls.
Dateline: Sunday, April 17, 2005
A horse's head has yet to be found in anyone's bed, but in some ways the Liberal party has been doing a surprisingly good impersonation of the mob. So the desire for an immediate election is understandable.
The arrogant Liberals would taste the public's wrath. A satisfying feeling of having roughed up the bums would prevail in the land—much like it prevailed after we routed Brian Mulroney's former gang in the 1993 election.
But a snap election almost surely won't get to the root of the corruption unveiled through the Gomery inquiry. Worse, a snap election may actually create the illusion—as in 1993—that the problem is being addressed and dealt with, when it's not.
The problem runs much deeper than a particular set of characters. It has to do with a political system that places inadequate controls over politicians when it comes to money.
￼ "Money trying to corrupt the process will always flow into secret holes," says Conacher. "And some secret holes are still legal."
Democracy, while good on paper and better than any alternative, can be rendered effectively meaningless if those with money are able to buy influence or special treatment from those in power.
Governments manage billions of dollars and make decisions affecting billions more. Getting control of that apparatus, getting a piece of that action, will always be a lure.
We can bemoan the lack of integrity of those in office.
Another solution would be to not leave it up to them to determine whether they'll behave honestly, but to put much tougher checks on their handling of the money flowing through the system.
Canada has made a few toe-in-the-water gestures in this direction, including a tightening of political financing laws by the departing Chrétien government in 2003.
But some glaring loopholes remain, notes Duff Conacher, whose group, Democracy Watch, has been pretty much a lone voice pressing for tougher accountability laws.
For instance, while our election finance laws require candidates to report donations used to fund campaigns, nothing prevents candidates from receiving secret donations in private bank accounts for personal use, says Conacher.
(In 2003, MP Tony Ianno admitted to receiving $260,000 for a personal "trust fund," and said other politicians had as well.)
"Money trying to corrupt the process will always flow into secret holes," says Conacher. "And some secret holes are still legal."
Cabinet ministers are technically not allowed to receive secret donations but, in practice, there seems to be nothing to stop them, since ethics commissioner Bernard Shapiro declines to audit their financial statements.
Last October, Shapiro told the Ottawa Citizen that auditing politicians' financial statements would create a police state.
The Conservatives are hoping to sweep to power without having to change a system that would allow them to avoid proper scrutiny as well.
And the Liberals have shown no inclination for meaningful change.
Paul Martin actually resisted Chrétien's limited political financing reforms.
The system won't change unless a furious public demands serious reform.
Simply holding a snap election won't bring that reform.
It's time we really held their feet to the fire.
Linda McQuaig is an award-winning journalist and a columnist with the Toronto Star in which this column originally appeared. She is the author of All You Can Eat: Greed, Lust and the New Capitalism (Penguin paperback, $22) and her newest book, It's the Crude, Dude: War, Big Oil, and the Fight for the Planet $35.95, published by Doubleday, in 2004.
The Sunday Delight! autos are American scupture
Yes, please feel free to post my column.
From: Tony G Robinson
Sent: Wednesday, December 28, 2005 4:53 AM
Subject: May I post your April 17th ?
I was hoping you may allow me to post your April 17th *Snap election won't fix..* * Need to demand money controls*.
I will include your books sales and prices footer, just as in Straight Goods*
This is a good time for reflecting upon what you wrote way back in April. The snap election part may not apply now but your other points do absolutly.
I want to further your money controls points with these comments...
May I add that the most effective protection for our public monies is strong Whistle Blower Protection law. Good law means strong penalties for bosses who would harm or fire an honest Whistle Blower.
Good law not only protects our funds in Ottawa, but in Provincial governments, hospitals, corporations and the stock exchanges as well.
Harper made his public commitment to that very cause during the public televised debates.
One other major way to save millions in tax dollars is the implementation of individual accounts and audit for each government ministry and department. Paul Martin promised this exact same measure during his televised CBC grovel speech last summer. A promise he would never keep and a promise every one has forgotten now in any case.
Serious and worthwhile things to consider before one ignores all the facts and votes Liberal again. Harper may not be a showman performer, but he knows economics and can install safeguards to insure that Canada’s economy runs strong and efficiently.
I trust Harper to be diplomatic. He will not publicly offend the USA. That is a sure fire way to lose jobs for Canadians through duties, tariffs and plant closures. Diplomacy often pays huge dividends. TG