Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau has been caught red-handed in a conflict of interest. He owned part of his family’s company, and made decisions that would help the company, and himself, make more money.
So Morneau’s going to face a big penalty right? Wrong! Everything he did was legal because of huge loopholes in ethics rules for Cabinet ministers, and because the Ethics Commissioner rubber-stamped it all as just fine (one of many bad rulings she has made in the past 10 years, proving again and again she is a lapdog, not a watchdog).
Even if Morneau was found guilty of violating the ethics rules, guess what the penalty is? Nothing! All that happens is the Ethics Commissioner issues a report saying that the rules have been violated.
Why do these huge unethical loopholes, lapdog Ethics Commissioner, and weak penalties continue? Because federal politicians wrote the rules for themselves, chose the Ethics Commissioner, and decided not to have any penalties for violations!
Every government across Canada has the same loopholes in government ethics rules, and weak enforcement and weak penalties.
Democracy Watch helped the Globe and Mail break the story about Minister Morneau, and has been in the news for the past month (including in the Globe, Toronto Star and National Post, and CBC and CTV) calling for the Ethics Commissioner, and Morneau, to do the right thing, and for federal parties to close the loopholes, strengthen enforcement, and increase penalties.
We’ve been here before – Prime Minister Harper’s right-hand man Nigel Wright also had multi-million dollar investments, and ties to big businesses, and he took part in decisions that affected his investments and business friends. What happened? The Ethics Commissioner let him off the hook with a bad ruling, the media turned their attention to other things, and federal politicians did nothing to clean things up.