Friday, December 23, 2005

Democracy Watch Rates the Parties

Democracy Watch has rated the parties in this election on the issue of what they will do about Government accountability and reform. They point out that the Conservatives and NDP are the only parties discussing this issue. And based on their reccomendation of 65 neccasary reforms they put the Conservatives ahead of the NDP, with the following exceptions;

“The parties have all been making promises about what they will do if they win power, but only the Conservatives have given voters a reason to believe they won’t abuse power by promising to pass a comprehensive, multi-measure law to increase the federal government’s accountability as the first thing they will do if elected,” said Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch.

The NDP re-released their ethics and accountability plan first introduced in October, expanding it from seven to 20 measures, while the Liberals, Bloc and Greens have yet to make any solid promises in the area of government accountability and democratic reforms.

Unfortunately, even the Conservatives’ 56 pledges leave some key gaps, as follows (in some cases, as noted below, the NDP has pledged to close the gap):

  • pass an “honesty in politics” law with high fines for liars (including requiring MPs who switch parties between elections to resign and run in a by-election, as the NDP proposes);
  • expand the powers of the Registrar of Lobbyists, Information Commissioner and Auditor General so that they can fine and publicly name violators of the codes, rules and laws they enforce (the Conservatives only pledge to give the Ethics Commissioner the power to levy fines);
  • to prevent secret donations from corrupting federal government politicians and officials, as proposed by the federal Department of Finance place federal politicians, their staff, Cabinet appointees and any government employees with decision-making power on the anti-corruption watch list of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (Fintrac);
  • as the NDP has proposed, require lobbyists to disclose how much they spend on each lobbying campaign and their past work with any Canadian or foreign government, political party or candidate, and clearly ban lobbyists from working with any government, political party or candidate, and;
  • introduce and pass a “meaningful public consultation” law to ensure Canadians have a strong and direct say in government policy-making (as in Sweden).

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