Thursday, March 30, 2006

... And Harper drops the ball... again...


So much for Stephen Harper’s promise to enact stringent ethics rules… During the election, Harper vowed to create a five-year cooling-off period before ministers, ministerial staffers and senior officials can start lobbying the government and already two Tory staffers have left their jobs working for cabinet ministers to lobby the federal government.

Kevin Macintosh and David Salvatore, aides to Rob Nicholson and Monte Solberg, left their government jobs this month and started signing up private clients but the Tories claim they broke no rules because they worked as parliamentary aids, rather than ministerial aides.

I call bullshit!

This is a classic example of how injustice can occur within the confines of rules and regulations. These sorts of things happen all the time. Lawyers are infamous for it, whether they deserve it or not (Cherniak - take note!).

The Conservatives catapulted themselves to power by crying foul on Liberal corruption. Perhaps Macintosh and Salvatore were acting within their right to begin lobbying, but it still doesn’t pardon breaching the spirit from which this five-year cooling-off period was created in.

The whole idea that former aides… sorry, former ministerial aides, could not lobby the government for five years was to prevent former staffers from running off with tight political ties and insider information which could subsequently affect the fairness of policy development.

Whether a parliamentary aide or a ministerial aide – Macintosh and Salvatore are still too close for comfort. Instead of trying to justify this behavior, the Tories should be acting on it and honoring the mandate they promised Canadians which was to clean up government. At a time where political skepticism is at an all-time high, our Canadian politicians can no longer afford to drop the ball on this. Canadian democracy is on the line.

I understand when you are Prime Minister, you have a huge organization to manage – you have your Party and the government to look after. I can empathize. But what I can’t empathize with is sweeping this matter under the rug. At least Martin (R.I.P. 1988 - 2006) had the balls to own up to his administration’s mistakes and take hard action against it.

*** The photo is curteousy Joe Eliot of Rick Mercer's Blog

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