Idea alert

Ethics commissioner Mary Dawson wonders whether we might need a code of conduct for MPs.

Dawson said she regularly gets complaints from people who think politicians are abusing their positions or behaving inappropriately.

“Misleading statements, personal attacks and the like that come with the partisan nature of political life are often distasteful to many Canadians,” Dawson wrote in her reports on both the Conflict of Interest Code for MPs and the Conflict of Interest Code Act. ”Some assume that this sort of behaviour must be covered by one or another of the various accountability regimes in force. In fact, there is no comprehensive regime that governs political conduct in general.”




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Idea alert

  1. Good idea. Apparently we need one.

      • It’s a good idea to have a code of conduct, because apparently a lot of our MPs were not well brought-up and don’t know how to behave in public.

        • We get the government we deserve.

          I do enjoy your curmudgeonly ways here. Don’t get me wrong.

          I think more rules are wrong. Especially rules about behaviour. Mr. Weiner, for instance has suffered the sanction of colleagues and citizens. At least he also has had the moral ethical sense overide his idiocy. Yes, I despair over the current crop of obsfucators running out government, but eventually, the people will decide.

          • The only reason Weiner got thumped was because he’s a Dem and he spoke out….he didn’t so anything illegal….stupid yes, illegal no.

            However Repubs get away with things that are both stupid and illegal. Vittner for example.  The very people touting ‘family values’.

            However I’m talking about rules of conduct in the HOC…how one behaves on the floor, how one manages money, how one campaigns…especially since we have a lot of expense account abuse, people calling each other poopy-head…or worse…and the constant attack ads.

            We will have a provincial election here in Ontario in Oct….and already the attack ads have started. Shouldn’t be allowed.

            To say ‘eventually the people will decide’ is just throwing your hands in the air and giving up. If all politicians misbehave….there is no choice, there is no alternative. Any politician that does behave in a civil manner, acts seriously, and speaks quietly….is simply overrun and drowned out.

            We used to be able to count on people….especially Canadians….to have manners. Not any more.

  2. “Dawson said some of the cases she’s been asked to look into, but couldn’t, included the use of MP mailings or communications in an overly partisan manner, using partisan labels when announcing government initiatives, or breaking the confidentiality of the budget process.”

    This explains why there is huge disconnect between Parliament/pols and society/Canada.
    Only 15% of society pays attention to politics, those are the people who are writing Ms Dawson and complaining.

    The 85% of Canadians who don’t pay attention to politics don’t notice ‘overly partisan’ nature of advertising because it all goes in garbage or recycling bin, depending where you live.  

    So bureuacrats are trying to fix a problem that only a few people even notice and how exactly is ‘ethics commissioner’ going to decide what is overly partisan and what isn’t?  85% of people who don’t follow politics think ethics and politicians is oxymoron. 

    Globe/Mail – Jan 2011
    Amid all of the breathless election speculation and reporting ….. Michael Marzolini delivered this sobering message – no one cares; no one is listening.

    Mr. Marzolini, the Liberal Party pollster, told Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, MPs and Senators at their caucus meeting this week that only 15 per cent of the Canadian electorate is paying attention to federal politics.

    • Q: And 85% no longer pay attention because…?

      A: Because they all behave so unethically that people just expect it now and shrug their shoulders. That’s not approval; that’s resignation. Same reason only half the population bothers to vote.

      Yet you seem to advocate more of the same…

      • Whole process is farcical.

        How much money do we spend on partisan mailings, for instance, when only small fraction of people look at it and vast majority of it ends up in rubbish and no one has read it. To most people, mailings themselves are propaganda, nothing to do with reality.

        Only a bureaucrat would think it reasonable to judge what mailing is, or isn’t, overly partisan when 85% of Canadians think politics is overly partisan. If Ms Dawson was actually worried about issues to do with ‘overly partisan’, Government communications would be shut down entirely.

    • “The 85% of Canadians who don’t pay attention to politics don’t notice
      ‘overly partisan’ nature of advertising because it all goes in garbage
      or recycling bin, depending where you live.”

      That doesn’t mean that overly partisan advertising has no effect on that 85%. Let’s say a piece of government junk mail arrives showing my MP grinning in front of a federal stimulus  check for $2 million. The check is emblazoned with a giant Conservative logo.

      As part of the 15% (assuming that number is correct) that pays attention, I’m going to be outraged that a private organization is taking credit for my tax dollars being spent on public projects.

      Someone from the other 85% might just glance at it, think “huh, the Conservatives are giving  $2M to some sort of project in my town” and toss it in the mailer.

      The impact on the 85% is the problem. The problem exists *because* they don’t pay attention. It’s a truth in advertising issue – truth in advertising laws have existed for decades, for good reason. It’s all too easy to fool the majority of people who aren’t paying attention.

      • Yes, TJ Cook, Con mailings have well known power to bamboozle people that is only noticed by left wing types who believe in false consciousness.

        All parties send propaganda to voters, not just Cons. I would be amazed if 5% of Canadians who receive those mailers even glance at them before they are thrown in rubbish. 

        No one is being fooled because no one believes mailers in first place. Most people think all government communication is propaganda for one reason or another. Con, Lib and NDP mailers just cancel each other out, no one is gaining any votes because of partisan mailers. 

        • I didn’t say that only Cons do it, though I would argue that they took partisan advertising to new lows.

          My point was that misleading advertising can affect people (in fact, might be more effective on people) who don’t pay much attention to politics.

          “The 85% of Canadians who don’t pay attention to politics don’t notice…”
          “85% of people who don’t follow politics think…”
          “To most people…”
          “…85% of Canadians think politics is overly partisan”
          “I would be amazed if 5% of Canadian…”
          “No one is being fooled because no one believes…”
          “Most people think…”

          Wow – how do you know all this? If I didn’t know better I would think you were making all these assertions without a shred of evidence.

  3. Code of Conduct? Would not the Golden Rule suffice?

    • The problem is, with their short attention spans, they read only as far as ”do unto others” and then go out and do just that.

  4. Don’t we already have Powerful Rules of Guidance and Penalties for Ethics and Transparency and Accountability?

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