We all have a right to know what our MPs spend our money on
Does anybody out there recall Stephen Harper’s main platform he ran on during the 2006 general election? I might not be able to remember what I had for dinner last night, but I sure as hell remember what that election was all about and I hope millions of Canadian voters do as well.
A commission was set up in early 2004 by Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin after Sheila Fraser, the Auditor General of Canada found unexplained irregularities in the Sponsorship Program, a program designed to boost the federal government’s profile in Quebec. It was to be called the Gomery Commission.
The sponsorship scandal decimated the Liberal Party from the inside out and the three opposition parties eventually decided to bring down the Liberal minority government. In the wake of the scandal and before the Gomery report was concluded, Stephen Harper and the Conservatives made the most of the Liberals misfortunes and ran their election campaign and platform on the lack of accountability in government.
With the help of an insider trading investigation within the Finance department and a street shooting of a minor in Toronto during the election, Harper saw his dream of becoming Prime Minister come true at the same time pledging to clean up government and hold government officials accountable.
To his credit, Harper’s first order of business was to pass the Federal Accountability Act. The plan aimed to reduce corporate, union and large personal political donations, provide protection for whistle-blowers and improve the power of the Auditor General to follow the money spent by the government. In essence, it aimed to increase the transparency of government spending.
In hindsight, it’s funny to me that two years later in 2008 at the request of elections Canada, the Mounties began probing the Conservative Party’s spending for advertisements on that very same campaign. See the full story here: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2008/04/15/rcmp-tories.html
All scandals aside, I would have thought that Sheila Fraser’s request to audit MPs individual expense accounts a couple of weeks ago would have been welcomed with open arms by all parties. Who doesn’t like a good audit after all? Well, MPs it seems. With the exception of the Bloc Quebecois, all parties turned it down at first while Michael Ignatieff of the Liberals finally changed his mind. That leaves only Jack Layton and more importantly the Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Of the yearly half a billion dollars in government expense accounts, $133 million for MPs alone, one would think you could never have too much oversight, even with a house of commons board of internal economy and tough rules. At least our politicians would be held accountable just like Harper promised four years ago and we would be less likely to see an expense account scandal that we saw last year in Great Britain.
Politicians, Members of Parliament and Senators should always be held in high regard. They are elected or appointed with respect and honor and then are given certain civil liberties that the majority of us don’t have. If any civil servants abuse any of those privileges, every Canadian and I have the right to know…
…and vote them out.