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Federal Liberals take lead with promises to make 75 good democracy and government access and accountability changes

But some promises lack details, and many promises missing in key areas of honesty, ethics, lobbying, whistleblower protection, political financing and enforcement overall

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, June 16, 2015

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch responded positively to the 75 democracy and government access and accountability promises made by the federal Liberal Party.  While the Liberals touted it as a 32-point plan, Democracy Watch counts 75 specific promised changes in the 5 areas of the plan, which puts them well ahead of the other federal parties in terms of election promises made so far that address these key issues.

The most significant areas of promises are as follows: to change the voting and voter ID system; to strengthen the access to information system by making disclosure the priority and giving the Information Commissioner the power to order disclosure; to ensure merit-based Cabinet appointments including to the Supreme Court and Senate; to free and empower MPs and committees in a few ways; to restrict government advertising and party spending in between elections; to reform Parliament in a few ways, and; to ensure gender-based analysis of the effects of government policies.

However, some promises lack details, and many promises are missing in the key areas of honesty-in-politics, ethics, lobbying, whistleblower protection, political financing and effective enforcement by watchdogs (such as the Ethics Commissioner and Lobbying Commissioner) and citizen group watching of government and big businesses.

“While the federal Liberals’ democracy and government accountability promises put them in the lead compared to the other parties in this key area of voter concern, some of their promises lack details and many promises are missing in key areas of honesty, ethics, lobbying, whistleblower protection, political financing and overall enforcement and penalties,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch and Visiting Professor at the University of Ottawa. “They, and the other parties, still have time to ensure their election platforms promise all the key changes needed to give Canadians the fully democratic and accountable federal government they deserve, and that many surveys over the past 15 years have shown they want.”

“Voters should be skeptical of politicians’ promises, and even if the Liberals made all the changes they promised everyone in politics and government would still be allowed to lie to voters, politicians would still be allowed to make money from their decisions, secret lobbying would still be legal, wealthy individuals would still be allowed to use money to have unethical influence, whistleblowers would still not be effectively protected, and enforcement and penalties would still be too weak to stop wrongdoing,” said Conacher.

Democracy Watch’s count of the number of changes promised in each of the 5 areas of the federal Liberals’ proposed plan, totaling 75 overall, is as follows:

  • Open and Transparent Government – 13 changes promised;
  • Open and Fair Elections – 17 changes promised;
  • Giving Canadians a Voice in Ottawa – 19 changes promised;
  • Better Service for Canadians – 17 changes promised;
  • Evidence-Based Policy – 9 changes promised.

Many surveys over the past 15 years have shown that a large majority of voters do not trust politicians, and want honesty, ethics, lobbying, open government and other reforms to stop politicians from abusing their power.  Hundreds of thousands of messages have been sent to federal party leaders and politicians through Democracy Watch’s campaigns calling for the 100 changes needed to ensure fully democratic and accountable federal government and politics.

Democracy Watch and the coalitions it leads will continue to push for all 100 key changes.

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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


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