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Ethics Commissioner's good ruling on Aga Khan gift to Prime Minister doesn't excuse overall very weak record that Auditor General should audit

Ethics Commissioner’s good ruling on Aga Khan gift to Prime Minister doesn’t excuse overall very weak record that Auditor General should audit

Democracy Watch calls on Lobbying Commissioner to find Aga Khan guilty of violating Lobbyists' Code -- Auditor General should also audit her weak record

Review of federal ethics and lobbying laws next year must close loopholes, strengthen enforcement, make Ethics Commissioner and Lobbying Commissioner independent, and add high fines as penalties

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

OTTAWA - Today, Democracy Watch applauded Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson for doing the right thing, finally, by finding Prime Minister Trudeau guilty of violating the federal ethics law by accepting the gift of the Bahamas trip from the Aga Khan, and also taking part in decisions that affected the Aga Khan's foundation.

However, Democracy Watch repeated its call on the Auditor General to audit Commissioner Dawson's record over the past 10 years because she has let 95% of people alleged to have violated the rules off the hook, and made 218 secret rulings.  Commissioner Dawson finishes her term in office on January 8th.

Democracy Watch also sent a letter to Commissioner of Lobbying Karen Shepherd this afternoon calling for an investigation into the Aga Khan's gift as a violation of the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct.

Democracy Watch is also calling on the Auditor General to audit the Lobbying Commissioner and RCMP because they have let off the hook 84% of people who she has caught violating the Code or the Lobbying Act.  Commissioner Shepherd finishes her term in office on December 29th.

Hundreds of Canadians have joined the call on the Auditor General to audit the Ethics Commissioner and Lobbying Commissioner and RCMP -- see details here.

"Ethics Commissioner Dawson is going out with a bang not a whimper by finally finding Prime Minister Trudeau guilty of violating the ethics law but her overall record since 2007 is as a lapdog who has let almost everyone off and the Auditor General should audit to find out if she covered up any past wrongdoing," said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch.  "Lobbying Commissioner Shepherd should have started investigating the Aga Khan a year ago for violating the lobbyist ethics code by giving the trip gift to Trudeau, and the Auditor General should also audit her negligently weak record."

Prime Minister Trudeau faces no penalty for violating the federal ethics law even though it is one of the key laws that safeguards Canada's democracy.  The ethics rules for Cabinet ministers have existed back to when Trudeau's father was Prime Minister but all prime ministers since have rejected the proposal to impose penalties for violations.

Other ongoing problems with the federal government ethics system are that Ethics Commissioner Dawson didn't catch Prime Minister Trudeau violating the law by taking the trip gift because she has refused to do basic audits since 2007 to ensure everyone is complying with the law.  In addition, the law has huge loopholes that allow Cabinet ministers to profit from their decisions, as the scandal involving Finance Minister Morneau has revealed.

As well, the Trudeau Cabinet has just handpicked the new Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion and new Lobbying Commissioner Nancy Belanger through a secretive, PMO-controlled process that Democracy Watch will be challenging in court in January.  See details here.

The Conflict of Interest Act and the Lobbying Act are required to be reviewed by the House Ethics Committee in 2018.  The Conservatives rejected many key proposed changes when the laws were last reviewed by the Committee.  See details about the changes needed to close loopholes and strengthen enforcement of the Conflict of Interest Act here.

See details about the changes needed to close loopholes and strengthen enforcement and penalties for the Lobbying Act and Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct here.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179    Cell: 416-546-3443
info@democracywatch.ca

Democracy Watch’s Government Ethics Campaign page

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