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News Release

As International Anti-Corruption Day again passes by, Canadian governments continue to fail to fulfill UN Convention Against Corruption requirements and other international good government standards

Federal Conservatives have still not responded to May 2010 Oliphant Commission Report recommendations

United Nations Anti-Corruption video Public Service Announcements for Canadian media to air/post on websites

Friday, December 9, 2011

OTTAWA - Today, on International Anti-Corruption Day, Democracy Watch called on all federal, provincial, territorial and municipal political parties and politicians to close key loopholes in laws, regulations and ethics codes across Canada that allow for corrupting secret donations to many political candidates, and secret lobbying of politicians, political staff, appointees and government officials, and to strengthen enforcement systems, including whistleblower protection.

"The corruption, ethics and spending scandals that have occurred in the federal government and almost every province and territory in the past year are likely the tip of a large iceberg of wrongdoing in government in Canada, and yet Canadian politicians continue to refuse to close loopholes in rules and to strengthen enforcement and penalties," said Tyler Sommers, Coordinator of Democracy Watch.  "How many scandals will it take before Canadian politicians will finally clean up their governments and establish strong good government systems that meet international standards?"

The federal Conservatives have not responded to the May 2010 Oliphant Commission report which made four recommendations to close ethics rule loopholes, and 14 recommendations to increase federal government ethics enforcement.  Dozens of other loopholes and weak enforcement practices undermine the federal good government system.

The federal Lobbying ActPublic Servants Disclosure Protection Act,  and Conflict of Interest Act and related MP and Senate ethics rules are all required to be reviewed by Parliament in the next six months and Democracy Watch and its nation-wide Government Ethics Coalition and  have been pushing for changes to these laws for years to end secret, unethical lobbying and unethical decision-making by Cabinet ministers and senior government officials especially.

The Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act must also be strengthened to comply with the 2004 United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

The Canada Elections Act must be strengthened to close loopholes that allow for secret, unlimited donations and loans, and Democracy Watch and its Money in Politics Coalition have been pushing for these changes for years.  The Financial Administration Act must also be strengthened to tighten up rules on sole-source contracting.  And related Treasury Board codes, policies and rules in all of the above areas must also be strengthened  (To see more details, click here). 

As well, opposition MPs and the Information Commissioner and Democracy Watch's Open Government Coalition have been pushing to strengthen the Access to Information Act for several years.

The Ontario, Quebec and B.C. governments have all recently made changes to some of their good government laws, but despite the changes secret donations and gifts and secret lobbying will still be allowed.

"All Canadians should be very concerned that politicians across Canada have left open loopholes that legalize secret, unlimited political donations and loans, and secret lobbying, which are a recipe for corruption," said Duff Conacher, Board member of Democracy Watch. "International standard-setting agencies have concluded that to combat corruption effectively, governments must close these loopholes and require financial institutions to track the bank accounts of politicians and government officials and report suspicious transactions to enforcement agencies."   

Details of requirements of UN Convention Against Corruption, and about key loopholes in the federal government's laws
Democracy Watch also called on the federal government to fulfill its commitments under section 52 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, and the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards, by amending the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) to require Canadian financial institutions to monitor the bank accounts of senior politicians and government officials and their families and associates in all levels of government, thereby adding them to the watch-list of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC).

In December 2006, federal politicians quickly and quietly passed Bill C-25, which only added foreign politicians and key officials and their families to FINTRAC’s watch-list.

As well, because of loopholes the federal Conservatives’ so-called “Accountability Act” left open, and because of loopholes in provincial, territorial and municipal laws, it is currently effectively legal:
  • to make a secret, unlimited donation or loan of money, property to a nomination race or party leadership candidate (and, in most jurisdictions, to an election candidate) who is not a sitting politician (as long as they don’t use the donation for their campaign);
  • to make a secret donation of services to a political campaign (because of lack of requirements to disclose who is providing services to campaigns);
  • for political parties and riding associations to have secret trust funds (some governments even allow such trust funds to benefit sitting politicians);
  • for politicians, their staff and government officials to accept valuable gifts (because they only have to disclose property they own worth more than $10,000), and;
  • for an in-house corporate lobbyist to lobby in secret (usually as long as they lobby only 20% of their work time on average).

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Tyler Sommers, Coordinator of Democracy Watch
Duff Conacher, Board member of Democracy Watch and Chairperson of the Goverment Ethics Coalition and Money in Politics Coalition
Tel: (613) 241-5179

To see Democracy Watch's list of the loopholes in the federal government's accountability system, click here

Democracy Watch's Money in Politics Campaign

Democracy Watch's Government Ethics Campaign

To see details about International Anti-Corruption Day and the UN Convention Against Corruption, click here and click here

To see details about the UN's "Your No Counts" anti-corruption campaign (including public service announcement videos), click here

To see Bill C-25, click here
and to see the related news release and backgrounder, click here

To see federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's October 11, 2006 speech to the Financial Action Task Force meeting in Vancouver, click here


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© 2011 Democracy Watch