It’s been a bad year for the Conservatives. Five members of the government’s caucus have left while under investigation or facing outright charges. These five have something else in common: they were all appointed or promoted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
After eight long years in power, this record raises unsettling questions about the judgement of our prime minister.
Let’s consider the facts. Harper rode into office promising an accountable and ethical government. Yet just last month he re-appointed MP Dean Del Mastro to a senior position as a Parliamentary secretary, a mere week before he was charged with four violations under the Elections Act. Harper kept MP Peter Penashue in his cabinet while under investigation for similar elections violations before he was forced out.
Harper appointed Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau to the Senate, all of whom are under investigation by the RCMP and were found to have claimed inappropriate expenses in the Deloitte audit.
And this list just starts to scratch the surface. It’s clear that the Conservatives believe there is one set of rules for them, and one set of rules for everyone else.
It doesn’t have to be that way. The Liberal party believes that politicians should be held to higher standards. This fall our caucus members will begin posting all their expenses online every quarter. The records will be searchable and comparable so that anyone can understand them. We hope this will be the first step of a cascade of transparency and openness as the other parties try to outdo each other.
Let’s try to raise the bar on government ethics — not keep turning a blind eye for our friends like Harper.
Scott Andrews, Liberal MP for Avalon,
Critic for open government and ethics