All party leaders should together choose an independent prosecutor to review AG’s and make prosecution decisions
House Board and Senate committee and arbitrator don’t do audits, are conflict-ridden kangaroo courts, and so won’t ever stop fraud spending
NHL hockey teams and players are not allowed to enforce the rules of their game themselves behind closed doors, and politicians shouldn’t be allowed to either
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, June 9, 2015
OTTAWA – Today, as the Auditor General (AG) released his report on senators’ spending, Democracy Watch called on senators and MPs to admit the AG has the legal power to audit their spending at any time, and called on the AG to start random, unannounced audits now.
Democracy Watch also called on all party leaders to choose together a fully independent prosecutor to review the AG’s findings and make prosecution decisions. The RCMP Commissioner and the Director of Public Prosecutions were both chosen by the Conservatives, and many commentators have raised concerns about an email the RCMP Commissioner sent to senior officers in 2013 and what the policy set out in the email reveals about the Commissioner’s relationship with the Conservative Cabinet and how it affects the ability of the RCMP to make independent law enforcement decisions (See criticisms here, and here, and here).
“The RCMP Commissioner and the Director of Public Prosecutions were both chosen by Conservatives, and there are serious questions about the Commissioner’s lack of independence from the Cabinet, and so to ensure fair and just decisions about prosecutions of senators all the federal party leaders should choose together a fully independent, non-partisan independent prosecutor to review the Auditor General’s findings,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch and Visiting Professor at the University of Ottawa.
“The House Board and Senate committee don’t audit MP or senator spending, and are conflict-ridden kangaroo courts that will never stop fraud spending,” said Conacher. “The only way to stop fraud spending by politicians is to have the Auditor General do random, unannounced audits, and the auditor has the clear legal power to do these audits so he should start doing them right now.”
“NHL hockey teams and players are not allowed to enforce the rules of their game themselves behind closed doors, and politicians shouldn’t be allowed to either,” said Conacher.
More than 90,000 messages have been sent to federal politicians through Democracy Watch’s Stop Fraud Politician Spending Campaign calling on them to agree that the Auditor General has the clear legal power to audit their spending, and to make other key changes
Currently, MPs claim that only the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy, which is made up of MPs, has the power to review MPs’ spending, and senators claim that only their Internal Economy committee has this power (although they have recently established an arbitrator position to resolve disputes between any senator and the committee).
The problem is that neither the House Board nor the Senate committee actually audit spending by MPs or senators, and they are both conflict-ridden kangaroo courts because they are made up of politicians judging each other.
Senators invited the AG in to do the audit that is being reported today, but have said nothing about having the AG do regular audits. MPs have claimed that the AG also needs their permission to audit them, and unfortunately the AG has been waiting for that permission.
The Auditor General Act states that the Auditor General “shall make such examinations and inquiries” needed “to report as required by this Act” (section 5). The Act requires the Auditor to audit the “public accounts” (which includes all the money spent by federal government institutions, including the House of Commons and Senate) and issue reports on whether the public’s money is being spent in ways that are proper, efficient and waste-preventing.
The Act also states that the Auditor General has the right “to information that relates to the fulfillment of his or her responsibilities” (subsections 13(1) and (4)) so he clearly has the right to look at MP expenses.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Democracy Watch’s Stop Fraud Politician Spending Campaign