Federal politicians may fear
Photo Boris Proulx
The new commissioner of conflict of interest and ethics, Mario Dion, shows a copy of the Law on conflict of interest, which serves as its working document.
Saturday, 31 march, 2018 01:00
Saturday, 31 march, 2018 01:00
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OTTAWA | The issue of loopholes in the law intended to ensure the ethical conduct of elected officials at the federal was once again resounded in the House of commons this week. The gifts of Christmas 2016 to Justin Trudeau, the Aga Khan, a billionaire religious, have shown that the present received illegally can never be declared. The Journal has been discussed with the new commissioner in charge of putting the deputies at not in terms of ethics since January : the Quebec Mario Dion. Elected officials should be afraid of him, he says, because to him, he is not afraid of them.
THE GIFTS RECEIVED BY THE PRIME MINISTER DURING HIS VISIT to The AGA KHAN CAN STAY SECRET AS THEY WERE DEEMED ” INADMISSIBLE “. IS THIS A HOLE IN THE LAW ?
Yes, there is a loophole. My predecessor has recommended 75 amendments to the act, and there are a series of things that can be done to change it, and here can be an example. [Currently, only gifts received is legally included in the public registry, editor’s NOTE] I think that no one has anticipated this situation by creating the law. It may have been done too quickly.
WHAT ARE THE OTHER PROBLEMS THE LAW is SUPPOSED to GUARANTEE The ETHICS ?
The law works, but I think that there are details that could be improved.
For example, in the center of the folder [holiday Justin Trudeau in] the Aga Khan is the fact that it has the right to receive a gift from a friend. But the word friend is very vague ! Each person has his own definition. Maybe we should eliminate this exemption. The people appointed to high positions could tell their friends to leave gifts for a few years, it would be a lot more clear.
Another example : the people elected or appointed at large positions are to sell their shares or place them in a blind trust. But in the case of Bill Morneau [the minister of Finance, who is the subject of an investigation, editor’s NOTE], this is a third situation that has been raised. In his case, he had of the shares held by a numbered company. It may be something that you should add to the law.
PRECISELY, WHERE ARE THE INVESTIGATIONS OF YOUR PREDECESSOR, AS THE MINISTER BILL MORNEAU ?
The investigation concerning Mr. Morneau, about the tabling of a draft law on pension schemes at the federal level, is our largest survey. [The opposition is accusing the minister of being enriched thanks to the project of law that he has himself prepared, editor’s NOTE] There is a report in the spring. The report will be published as soon as it is ready. In the morning, where Mr. Morneau will learn the outcome of the investigation, the public will learn at the same time. Almost to the second. It also has three or four other surveys, which, they, are not in the public domain. I can’t give you the details.
HOW to Make SURE TO DETECT ALL of THE PROBLEMS Of ETHICS IN GOVERNMENT ?
Our office does not monitor just the ministers and mps, but also the so-called public office holders, or the ” senior officials “. There are roughly 3000 people who are governed by the Law on conflict of interest. There is the media, we received complaints from mps or senators, and there is also what the public tells us.
When you see an article in the journal, a situation referred to in the media, we did a mini-survey, that is to say that we will seek, our own chief, of the information. It happened a few days ago to the situation of the member of parliament for Brampton-Is [the liberal Raj Grewal would have invited a business partner during the trip of the government in India, according to several media outlets, ED.].
THE SANCTIONS ENOUGH ?
We can give fines of 0 to 500 $, only for certain situations. But the real punishment is the shame of having violated the law. It is a little difficult to see any administrative sentences for serious violations. As in the report [of Justin Trudeau and] of the Aga Khan, for example, the commissioner has concluded that the four sections of the act have been violated, but she had not the power to impose a penalty. There are jurisdictions in Canada that impose fines quite substantial. This is something that I would advocate.
IS IT THAT ELECTED YOU FEAR ?
Yes, I think so. But I am convinced that they are more and more attention. The people who are governed by the law occupy very important positions. These are not school children, and it is very justified to have the highest expectations.
Once it is determined that someone has not complied with the law, I have no problems to crack. I’m not afraid, not at all. You will be the judge of that.