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Penalty of removal too high for Ford — change law to allow fines. Fed/prov laws weak.


Set out below is a letter-to-the-editor by Democracy Watch Board Member Duff Conacher which was published in the Hill Times on December 3, 2012

While being removed from office is too high a penalty to pay for Toronto Mayor Ford’s ethics violations, at least the judge took the situation and the ethics rules seriously, and at least the rules and penalties are strong.

Other than Cabinet ministers, politicians in federal and provincial legislatures across Canada are allowed to be involved in a business while in office.

And the ethics rules for all of them, including Cabinet ministers, are so weak they are allowed to make decisions even if they have a financial interest in the outcome.

As well, in most provinces and at the federal level, there is either no penalty for violating ethics rules, or the penalty is minimal.

For example, federal Conservative Cabinet minister Christian Paradis was found guilty last March of violating a key ethics rule for giving preferential treatment to a lobbyist, and the only possible penalty of being kicked out of Cabinet did not happen as Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided to ignore the clear violation.

As well, many ethics commissioners across Canada have let politicians off the hook for ethics violations for very questionable reasons.

These huge loopholes must be closed, and enforcement and penalties strengthened, in order to have ethical federal, provincial and territorial politicians.

For more details, go to Democracy Watch’s Government Ethics Campaign