A transparency-measuring contest - Macleans.ca

A transparency-measuring contest

The rush to be seen being accountable


On Sunday, Justin Trudeau teased that the Liberals would soon come forward with new ideas to increase transparency around the expenses of MPs and senators.

Yesterday, Conservative Senate leader Marjory LeBreton said she’ll introduce a motion that will call on the auditor general to audit Senate expenses.

Liberal Senate leader James Cowan then said the House of Commons should also be audited.

Meanwhile, Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux is proposing a bill that would force party leaders to endorse all political ads run by their respective parties. Mr. Lamoureux tells the Star he doesn’t know if Mr. Trudeau supports his idea, but if the Liberals do support it, there’s surely nothing stopping them from unilaterally imposing the rule on themselves regardless of whether the bill ever passes the House.

If a political leader is willing to accept whatever grief might result from implementing reforms, there are easy points to be scored now on transparency. Full disclosure of MP expenses would seem an obvious proposal to make. But so too would new oversight for government advertising (as the BC NDP proposed in January and as the Ontario Liberals have already implemented).

Less sexy, but more important would be commitments to reform the access to information system, establish the Parliamentary Budget Officer as an independent and well-funded institution and overhaul the estimates process.


A transparency-measuring contest

  1. I’ll be interested to see what the Liberals propose. Hard to believe anything other than full disclosure would go over well in the current climate. I doubt they’d even get partial credit if they only proposed some half-measures.

  2. ‘You first’ is an old trick.

    Everybody or nobody.

  3. Can I assume Lamoureux is talking about national campaigns rather than riding-specific ads? During a campaign, if the leader had to approve every riding ad, there would be little time left to do anything else.

  4. Hope it all doesn’t lead to endless witch hunts and parties trying dig up dirt on each other. They just need to set up good systems and have independent audits that are made public. It’s not right to have senators involved in each others’ audits and the PMO had no business being in that at all. It’s as if they’re all in some private club.