As reported by Elizabeth Thompson and Katie Simpson on cbc.ca this morning (http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-aga-khan-gifts-secret-1.4594447), Prime Minister Trudeau’s office has been told that it does not have to publicly disclose the gifts that he received from the Aga Khan as the gifts were received in violation of the Conflict of Interest Act. Only acceptable gifts are listed in the public registry, and as the illegal gifts received by the Prime Minister were addressed (but not disclosed) in an investigation under the Act, there is no legal requirement for the Prime Ministers’ office to disclose what the illegal gifts he received were.
Peter Zimonjic of the CBC reports that the federal Health Minister is being investigated by the Ethics Commissioner over whether she violated section 7 of the Conflict of Interest Act by incurring over $7000 in expenses using a luxury car service owned by someone who campaigned for her during the 2015 federal election: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/philpott-limo-ethics-commissioner-probe-1.3732575
According to section 7, “No public office holder shall, in the exercise of an official power, duty or function, give preferential treatment to any person or organization based on the identity of the person or organization that represents the first-mentioned person or organization.”
In response to a request by Conservative MP Collin Carrie to investigate the federal Health Minister, the Ethics Commissioner wrote back stating that she has begun an investigation to determine whether the Minister contravened section 7 of the Act.
Pursuant to section 44 of the Act, the Commissioner will now investigate the matter, and make public a report setting out the facts in question as well as the Commissioner’s analysis and conclusions in relation to the investigation.
Don Braid writes in the Calgary Herald about a fundraising ethics mess that the Alberta NDP created for themselves by coming up with a fundraising plan that involves selling tickets to “Join Premier Rachel Notley, cabinet, and MLAs for the evening to discuss issues facing the province that are important to you.” – http://calgaryherald.com/opinion/columnists/braid-from-attack-to-apology-in-a-split-second-the-ndp-fundraising-uproar
These fundraisers illustrate the very fine line that divides naked, pay-to-play corruption schemes and legitimate political fundraisers where MLAs are in attendance.
It is very difficult for a party in power to claim that selling access to their MLAs who are in cabinet should not be viewed as selling access to government. It is also difficult to avoid the perception that those who have $250 to spend will have their views heard by the government, while those without the $250 will not.
What do you think of the Ethics Commissioner’s take on this fundraiser? Does it really matter, as the ethics commissioner has advised, that the advertisement for the fundraiser took out the positions of the NDP MLAs who would be attending? Does anyone not know that Rachel Notley is not only an MLA, but also the Premier? How does that change to the advertisement make any practical difference?
Governing parties must be very aware of the perception that these types of fundraisers create, and question whether the financial benefit is worth the perception of corruption, which while may be proven, is impossible to disprove.