Many recent scandals show the current system is not preventing politicians from using taxpayer money to pay their personal or political party costs
November 30, 2012
OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch launched a national letter-writing and petition drive calling on politicians across Canada to pass laws to strengthen politician spending rules and require Auditor Generals to audit all politicians for fraudulent spending to prevent politicians from using taxpayer money to pay their personal or political party costs.
“Recent spending scandals involving federal politicians have revealed loopholes and shown clearly that the current system is not preventing misspending, and past audits of politicians in some provinces have shown that audits catch wrongdoers,” said Tyler Sommers, Coordinator of Democracy Watch. “The spending loopholes must be closed and auditor generals across Canada required to audit all politician spending regularly to prevent politicians from using taxpayers’ money to pay their personal or political party costs.”
Recent spending scandals involve politicians from various parties and levels of government including federal Conservative Cabinet ministers Bev Oda and Jason Kenney, former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe, Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau, Liberal MPs Judy Sgro, Wayne Easter, John Cannis and Andrew Telegdi, and former Liberal Cabinet minister Joe Fontana.
These federal politicians were caught by chance. In contrast, many politicians from many political parties were caught misspending or stealing public funds through comprehensive audits by the auditor generals in England, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia leading to politicians being forced to resign, charged, and found guilty of abusing their access to taxpayers’ money.
The enforcement of spending rules is also far from transparent in some jurisdictions, such as federally where cases are examined in secret, behind closed doors, by the Board of Internal Economy which is made up of politicians from all parties who protect themselves and their party members instead of enforcing the rules and ensuring that taxpayer money is not spent inappropriately.
These scandals and weak enforcement systems clearly show that the laws and enforcement of politician spending must be strengthened to ensure all politicians follow the rules at all times.
Democracy Watch’s letter-writing and petition drive makes it easy for all Canadians to send a letter to key politicians across Canada calling for the following key changes to strengthen rules and auditing of politician spending across Canada to ensure they are not using taxpayers’ money to pay their personal or political party costs:
- require all politicians, their offices and staff people to submit actual, detailed receipts and information showing the number and identity of people at any event, what exactly was purchased, by whom exactly, for what use, and at what price, for all expenses claimed;
- require all politicians, their offices and staff people, before making significant purchases, to check early on with the federal, provincial or territorial Auditor General’s office to ensure that what is being bought, and the proposed spending process, comply with spending rules;
- require the federal, provincial and territorial Auditor General to regularly audit spending by all politicians, their office, and their staff;
- require that all investigations of politician spending be conducted by an federal, provincial or territorial Auditor General who is fully independent from Cabinet, and fully empowered and required to investigate all alleged violations of rules, and give all the Auditor Generals the power to penalize violators and to order a correction of any wrongdoing;
- require the federal, provincial and territorial Auditor General to rule publicly on every complaint and situation in which there is reasonable evidence of wrongdoing, and;
- require the federal, provincial and territorial Auditor General to release the findings of their investigations as soon as they are completed regardless of whether parliament is in session.
Democracy Watch will continue pushing, and helping Canadians push, until politicians across Canada make these key changes to prevent politician misspending and fraudulent spending of any kind.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Tyler Sommers, Coordinator of Democracy Watch
For more details, go to Democracy Watch’s Voter Rights Campaign page