Sunday, June 07, 2009

Whose Brainchild Was This?

From the Globe and Mail:

MPs Loosen Rules For Cash and Benefits

Members of Parliament have exempted the cash and benefits they receive from political parties and riding associations from restrictions and public disclosure under the House of Commons conflict-of-interest code.

The move was unanimously approved without a vote in the Commons after a series of committee hearings conducted entirely in secret.

Let me see if I get this straight - our federal MPs have just made it easier to take benefits and perks from their parties without being accountable to the public for them?

This smells worse than last weeks fish on the counter. Especially in light of the crisis in Britain, brought on by dishonest abuse of expense accounts.

The fact that it hasn't even been voted on in the House of Commons makes it look even worse. In my view, this smells like something the oh-so-accountable HarperCon$ would have cooked up - especially after their little "In-and-Out" advertising scam in 2006 - it's also completely in character with the kind of closed-door governance that we've seen in Alberta since Klein took over.

I don't care how honorable the intentions here might be. The public is looking for their leaders to be more accountable, not less. Broadening exemptions for reporting of benefits is not helping matters. I don't trust our politicians that far to begin with, and anything that makes them beholden to someone other than the voters worries me.

The change also could erode the independence of backbench MPs and make them more beholden to party bosses instead of voters, adds Democracy Watch chief Duff Conacher.

Not that backbench MPs are particularly independent these days, but having things "hidden" that could be revealed publicly by a conveniently placed media leak makes it a lot easier to railroad bad legislation through.

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