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News Release


Saturday, October 15, 2005

OTTAWA - Today, Democracy Watch criticized the federal New Democratic Party's seven-point ethics package for failing to address many key gaps in the federal government's ethics enforcement system, in part because some of the package's proposals have nothing to do with government ethics.

"Even if the NDP's ethics proposals were passed into law, it would still be legal for politicians and their staff and public servants to lie to Canadians, for election candidates to accept secret, unlimited donations and for politicians to have secret bank accounts, and for Cabinet ministers to handle issues in which they have a financial interest, and many people who want to blow the whistle on government wrongdoing would still have no protection," said Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch. "In addition, enforcement of ethics, access to information and waste prevention laws would still be mostly ineffective, and penalties for many wrongdoers far too weak."

"Canadians deserve much better than weak, incomplete proposals that are nowhere near strong enough to clean up the dishonesty, corruption, secrecy and waste that has infected the federal government for the past 138 years," said Conacher.  "All of the federal parties have to do much better with both their actions now, and their platforms for the next election.  If they don't, no one should should be surprised if 40% of Canadians again show their lack of confidence in federal politicians by refusing to cast a ballot in support of any candidate, as they did in the 2004 election."

The NDP's seven-point ethics package, introduced in a speech by MP Ed Broadbent at an NDP conference, does contain proposals to address serious gaps in the federal lobbying law, access-to-information law, and Cabinet appointments process, as well as measures to limit and disclose spending in political party leadership campaigns, and to force MPs who switch parties in between elections to resign their seat and run in a by-election.

Strangely though, the ethics package also proposes the election reform measures of fixed election dates every four years and a partial proportional representation vote-counting system, both of which have nothing to do with gaps in the federal government's ethics enforcement system.

"Given that the NDP's ethics package only contains seven points, one would have thought they would not waste two points on proposals that have nothing to do with government ethics," said Conacher.

Democracy Watch and the nation-wide Government Ethics Coalition (made up of 31 groups representing more than two million Canadians) will continue pushing all the federal parties to pass all the changes needed to clean-up the federal government.

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Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179

Democracy Watch's overall Clean Up the System webpage
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 NDP's Ethics and Accountability Package