Oliphant Commission report's recommendations continue to be ignored by Conservatives
Set out below is a letter-to-the-editor by Democracy Watch Board member Duff Conacher which was published on March 22, 2012 on Canada.com -- To see related op-ed, click here and to see related interview with Ethics Commissioner on CBC's Power and Politics, click here
Federal Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson has, after 10 highly questionable rulings in the past 5 years and an almost two-year delay in this case, finally issued a ruling that complies with the Conflict of Interest Act when she concluded that Conservative Cabinet minister Christian Paradis' actions in relation to Rahim Jaffer violated the rule prohibiting giving preferential treatment to anyone or any organization.
If Prime Minister Harper does not kick Paradis out of Cabinet, he will once again confirm his tolerance of dishonest, unethical and secretive behaviour by Cabinet ministers and senior government officials.
And while Commissioner Dawson's ruling is welcome, she should have ruled before last May's election; has ignored for almost two years the complaint Democracy Watch filed about the actions of Paradis' staff, and other Conservative politicians and staff (who also gave Jaffer preferential treatment), and; overall has a very weak enforcement record.
Commissioner Dawson's ongoing partial, and usually legally incorrect, enforcement of federal ethics rules is unacceptable given that these rules are key to having democratic good government. The Conservatives promised in their 2006 election platform to clean up the federal government -- but they broke more than half of their Accountability Act promises -- and they have ignored the recommended changes Justice Oliphant set out in his May 2010 report on the Mulroney-Schreiber affair.