Politics of being, not doing

We don’t need either Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer or NDP Leader Jugmeet Singh calling for Prime Minister Trudeau’s resignation, that’s the people’s job when we go to the polls this fall.

What we need from both Scheer and Singh is to do their jobs. Thanks to the Globe & Mail, we know all about the SNC-Lavalin affair but we have yet to hear from Opposition leaders as to changes they would make to stop this practice occurring in the future.

Last week, I wrote about the ‘too big to fail’ scenario—politicians taken hostage by big money and multi-national corporations. But there are other less obvious, but significant pitfalls in our current parliamentary practices that enabled the SNC-Lavalin affair.

First, we learned about the imprudence and perils of one person holding both the Justice and the Attorney General portfolios.

It creates a natural and dangerous conflict of interest.

In Great Britain, the Attorney General (AG) is a non-cabinet position that provides legal counsel to the Cabinet, but first and foremost is the top legal officer of the land. Although an elected MP, the AG answers to Parliament.

On the other hand, the Secretary of State for Justice is a member of cabinet responsible for developing policies that meet political ends. Israel’s AG performs the same role, but it has even more independence as an unelected senior bureaucrat.

The independence of the Israeli AG was clearly on display last week when it charged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with bribery and breach of trust even while in office.

As important as this separation of power is to the rule of law, so too is the recent introduction of Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPA).

Hidden deep in the bowels of a 556-page omnibus budget implementation bill passed by the Liberal majority in September 2018 was a provision to allow for DPAs.

The DPA is another procedural import from the USA which is used to protect corporate wrongdoers from being brought before the courts to face criminal charges.

These agreements are negotiated behind closed doors and replace criminal convictions with fines, remediation measures, enhanced reporting requirement and maybe third-party oversight for a time.

Stop and think about the implications—corporations have not only become ‘too big to fail’, but also ‘too big to be held liable for criminal activities’.

The Conservatives under Stephen Harper imported the American omnibus bill plaque into Canadian legislative proceedings.

He and Trudeau have both used this non-transparency tool to slip through corporate largess and coverups to the disadvantage of the masses.

What Trudeau did was not illegal, it was political. If Singh and Scheer do not bring forward specific changes to eliminate the possibility of another SNC-Lavalin affair, but only campaign on Trudeau’s unethical failings, it matters not whether it is a Liberal, Conservative or New Democratic government. Promoting anger and emotions to win elections, rather than presenting substantive changes to correct identified problems, is simply the ‘politics of being, not doing’ thereby ensuring the same results regardless of who is in government.


Brenda Schimke

ECA Review

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ECA Review