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Federal Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson finally issues a good ruling, but still has a negligently weak record

Set out below is a letter-to-the-editor by Democracy Watch Board member Duff Conacher which was published in the July 25, 2011 Hill Times

Finally, Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson has, for only the second time since she became commissioner in July 2007, issued a ruling that actually upholds federal ethics rules and sets a strong conflict of interest standard.


Her ruling finding that Helena Guergis violated MP ethics rules by sending a letter to a county council in support of a business with which her husband Rahim Jaffer was working breaks Commissioner Dawson's pattern of letting every Conservative Cabinet minister, MP and staffer off the hook, usually for bizarre technical loopholes that Commissioner Dawson has, in some cases, created herself even though the loopholes do not exist in federal ethics rules.


Commissioner Dawson's most recent annual report shows that she had 76 alleged ethics violations arise during the year, but only investigated only nine of the situations.  This is as bad as the former disgraced Integrity Commissioner's very weak enforcement record, and her one good ruling today does not compensate for her negligence in failing to investigate and rule on many other equally questionable situations over the past four years and/or failing to find people guilty of violating the rules.


For example, given her ruling today, how could Commissioner Dawson have approved in 2008 of Tony Clement identifying himself as a Cabinet minister and appearing in a promotional video endorsing the business of one of his constituents, a video produced by a former campaign worker of Clement's (and so Clement was, in a way, also helping his former campaign worker's business)?


And secondly, why has Commissioner Dawson refused to investigate, let alone rule on, Democracy Watch's complaint filed on May 6, 2010 about several Cabinet staff and ministers providing preferential treatment to Jaffer?

For more details, go to Democracy Watch's Government Ethics Campaign and Money in Politics Campaign pages


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