Jul. 11, 2020

Ethical rot is pervasive in the Liberal Party

Global News reported July 10 that Finance Minister Bill Morneau did not recuse himself from recent discussions involving the WE organization, though, like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he has relatives involved with the group.

The revelation comes amid mounting opposition scrutiny over the Liberals’ decision to award WE Charity a contract to administer a $900-million youth grant program. A decision to halt the agreement was announced last Friday, and the ethics commissioner is investigating whether Trudeau violated conflict of interest rules in light of his family’s ties to the organization. GLOBAL NEWS.

   The ethical rot is pervasive throughout Liberal party and government ranks. When both the Prime Minister and Finance Minister ignore the federal Ethics Act, we can be assured that other Ministers of the Crown, employees and MPs follow the lead and find no difficulty in engaging in contracts or deals that have a financial or other benefit to themselves or family members.

 That is a classic definition of corruption.

The Ethics Act states:

4 For the purposes of this Act, a public office holder is in a conflict of interest when he or she exercises an official power, duty or function that provides an opportunity to further his or her private interests or those of his or her relatives or friends or to improperly further another person’s private interests.

5 Every public office holder shall arrange his or her private affairs in a manner that will prevent the public office holder from being in a conflict of interest.

6 (1) No public office holder shall make a decision or participate in making a decision related to the exercise of an official power, duty or function if the public office holder knows or reasonably should know that, in the making of the decision, he or she would be in a conflict of interest.

(2) No minister of the Crown, minister of state or parliamentary secretary shall, in his or her capacity as a member of the Senate or the House of Commons, debate or vote on a question that would place him or her in a conflict of interest.

Perception is everything. When there are close connections between officials, their family members and a contractor, and they participate in decision making, they are in conflict. There is no work-around. We are left to wonder how many other contracts and dealings may benefit government officials, family members and friends.

The contractor, WE.org, has a specific political agenda it is promoting world-wide. We should not be using public funds to support a non-government agency engaged in political activity in foreign nations. It is strange that Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne did not object.

Media articles and government releases refer to recommendations from a “non-partisan civil service” which does not exist in Canada. The head of the civil service is the Clerk of the Privy Council who is part of the Prime Minister’s Office. That is another serious conflict of interest.  

 It appears we have seen the upper part of a rather large and dangerous iceberg. The more that is reluctantly revealed, the more our trust in our government is diminished.