(Updated September 2011)
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.
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.
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).
The pressure is increasing on the federal government and provincial governments (especially Ontario) to pass an honesty-in-politics law.
The federal Conservatives have broken many of their 2006 federal election promises, including in the area of strengthening government accountability, and the Ontario Liberals have also broken many of the election promises they made in the 2004 provincial election.
Incredibly, the federal Conservatives actually 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 the details,
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
Since then, all federal political parties have ignored
the need for an honesty-in-politics law, while they
continue to criticize each other for misleading
voters. The NDP MP Peter Stoffer does keep trying to
get a bill passed that would require an MP who switches
parties in between elections to resign and run in a
by-election, but that is the only initiative that
The one honesty-in-politics system that does exist at the
federal level, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO -
created by the 2006 Accountability Act) who reviews the
statements about projected government spending, debt and
deficits by the Finance Minister and Finance Department
and other ministers, has shown how useful and necessary it
is to have accountability for misleading. Several
times the PBO has revealed that the Finance Minister or
other ministers are misleading the public about the actual
cost of government initiatives.
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