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Election candidates, politicians, their staff, appointees and government officials across Canada have lied to the public many times, far too many times, in the past.
Whether making "bait-and-switch" promises during elections, or trying to cover-up wrongdoing or to push their agenda through misleading statements, these lies undermine good government in every way.
How are voters supposed to vote when they don't know what they will get after the election because all the candidates are lying? How are voters supposed to hold governments accountable if it is legal for politicians and government officials to lie?
Dishonesty in politics is the #1 reason why Canadians don't vote according to polls conducted by Elections Caanda.
Incredibly, during federal election campaigns, and during elections in every province and territory except Quebec and New Brunswick, it is illegal for anyone to lie about a candidate, but it is only illegal in B.C. for a candidate to lie about what they promise to do or what they have done.
The B.C. law is a good first step, but it requires voters to file a costly court application if they believe that a candidate has lied during an election, and there is no effective penalty even if the candidate did lie.
In complete contrast, if any Canadian corporation lies in its advertising, only 6 Canadians need to sign and send a letter to the Competition Bureau and the Bureau must investigate and determine whether the corporation lied, and what corrective measures are required, and the Bureau has the power to penalize a corporation that lies in its ads. For example, the Competition Bureau ruled that Sears Canada was guilty of lying in its advertising in 2005, and Sears was fined millions of dollars.
And if any corporation or corporate executive lies to
their shareholders, the shareholders have the right to go
to court and seek compensation for the damage done by the
lies. Thousands of shareholders have received
compensation for losses caused by the lies of corporate
executives in the past decade in North America.
Similarly, politicians have passed laws requiring
taxpayers, immigrants, welfare applicants, witnesses in
court cases, lawyers and other professionals to all tell
the truth, with strong penalties for those who lie.
Why? Because politicians have recognized that if
these people and companies are allowed to lie, society
will be undermined as many other people are abused and
hurt by the lies.
However, politicians continue to protect themselves and
others involved in politics by refusing to pass a law
requiring them all to tell the truth.
Every poll taken in the past decade in Canada shows that voters are sick of the ongoing lying by election candidates, politicians and government officials, and that they want it stopped.
Every government in Canada needs to pass an "honesty in
politics" law that bans lying, gives voters an easy way to
complain to an independent watchdog agency, and gives the
watchdog agency full powers to investigate, rule and
penalize the political "misleader" with a high fine (equal
to at least 2 years' salary).
To see more details, go to Democracy Watch's January 2010
op-ed on the need
for an honesty-in-politics law.
The pressure is increasing on the federal government and provincial governments (especially Ontario) to pass an honesty-in-politics law.
The federal Conservatives broke many of their 2006 federal election promises, including in the area of strengthening government accountability, and the Ontario Liberals also broke many of the election promises they made in the 2004 provincial election.
Incredibly, the federal Conservatives removed (through
Bill C-2, the so-called "Federal Accountability Act") the
one rule in federal ethics rules that requires Cabinet
ministers, their staff, and senior government officials to
"act with honesty." To see details, click here.
The federal New Democratic Party (NDP) pledged in the
2006 federal election to push for the creation of a
Parliamentary Commissioner who would take complaints and
audit the federal government in terms of promises made and
promises kept or broken. Unfortunately, the NDP's
proposal would not cover all federal politicians and
government officials, just politicians in the ruling
So while the pressure is increasing for an
"honesty-in-politics" law, politicians need to hear from
you before they will act.
To see a summary of why such a law is needed, click here.
Write Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper, Interim Liberal Party Leader Bob Rae, the NDP, and your own MP (See addresses below). Please send a copy of your letter and any response to Democracy Watch.
In your letter urge the federal government to pass an honesty-in-politics law that includes the following key measures (For more details, go to Democracy Watch's Honesty in Politics Campaign campaign page):
SEND YOUR LETTER BY MAIL calling for passage of a
federal "honesty in politics" law to:
House of Commons
OR send your letter by email to all the federal
party leaders at:
OR send your letter by fax or email individually
Interim Liberal Party Leader Bob Rae
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair
AND, finally, please send a copy of your letter by email to Democracy Watch at: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thank you for participating in our DemocratizACTION Network
Democracy Watch's Honesty in Politics Campaign
April 17, 2012
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