Questionable ethics spare no political party

Tease the day: NDP MP Andrew Cash is the latest parliamentarian in the limelight

How long can a few hundred parliamentarians go without someone being accused of skirting ethics? 2013′s answer is, evidently, not very long at all. This time, neither a Conservative or Liberal Senator, nor a cabinet minister, is in the spotlight. The most recent conundrum has NDP MP Andrew Cash, his party’s heritage critic, on the defensive. Last night, Sun Media’s David Akin revealed Cash’s tricky relationship with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Cash, who apparently earns tens of thousands of dollars a year from the CBC for contributing to the score for Dragon’s Den, regularly defends the corporation at his seat on the Commons’ heritage committee. Akin’s reporting suggests that the conflict of interest commissioner severely limited Cash’s ability to debate the CBC. He says he did nothing wrong. His Conservative and Liberal colleagues on the heritage committee disagree. The NDP is silent. So it goes.


What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with the bribery investigation of SNC-Lavalin‘s operations in Algeria. The National Post fronts allegedly fraudulent activity at the McGill University Health Centre involving unnamed managers and SNC-Lavalin. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with belt-tightening at Ontario school boards to help facilitate full-day kindergarten. The Ottawa Citizen leads with 76 truckloads of nuclear waste that will make their way from Chalk River to an American processing site. iPolitics fronts Liberal opposition to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s job-cutting strategy. CBC.ca leads with attempted murder charges levelled against the lead prosecutor in the Oscar Pistorius murder case. National Newswatch showcases a Sun News Network story about NDP MP Andrew Cash’s apparent conflict of interest relating to the CBC.


Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Navigable waters. The pipeline industry successfully lobbied for controversial changes to federal water legislation in advance of last year’s budget, according to documents. 2. Scientists. A pair of interest groups has asked Canada’s information commissioner to investigate the “muzzling” of federal scientists since the Conservatives won power.
3. Sea Kings. The man in charge of Canada’s air force says he still trusts the country’s 50-year-old Sea King helicopters to do their job, as the military awaits the choppers’ replacements. 4. Patriotism. A poll suggests that, despite all the money spent on celebrating the bicentennial of the War of 1812, few Canadians outside Ontario felt more patriotic because of it.




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Questionable ethics spare no political party

  1. The anti-Cash stuff seems pretty slim. I’m not screaming OMG MEDIA BIAS! like some might, but I do notice a lot of “wow, this stuff by the Conservatives is going incredibly well!” for stuff that isn’t, and similarly a lot of “hoo boy this will look bad for another party” when it is also nto really justified.

    • Given the direct quote from Mary Dawson’s letter, how is this not justified? Don’t you think when the Ethics Commissioner says you cannot vote because it is a conflict of interest, that you should not vote? When someone violates the conditions set out by the Ethics Commissioner, isn’t that newsworthy?

      • First off, I agree that this creates the appearance of a conflict and is an ill considered move by the NDP to allow it to continue. That said is it just isn’t the aha that the Sun would like it to be be.

        Dawson’s advice wasn’t a blanket statement because she qualified it with the phrase “that may affect your private interest.” Unless he was debating a CBC operational strategy to fund reality TV shows or a plan to cancel Dragons’ Den specifically, he isn’t in actual conflict, just risking the appearance.

        Debating overall CBC funding funding wouldn’t affect his deal with Dragon’s Den anymore than a debate about federal health transfer payments would affect a doctor’s interest (future earnings) or voting to pass the spending estimates with their generous subsidy of mining exploration would be considered to affect someone’s family oil and gas business.

        • In fact, does parliament even get involved in ANY programming decisions of the CBC?

          • Here we go again with the hair-splitting and the obfuscations. He had clear direction from the Ethics Commissioner that he should not participate in, or vote upon, matters having to do with the CBC because of his “private interest” in the CBC. No-one but a blinkered partisan could deny he has a private interest in the CBC.

            If you take the trouble to seek the opinion of the Ethics Commissioner, and you get clear direction from the Ethics Commissioner on what is – and what is not – allowed, then you don’t get to claim ignorance or confusion as your excuse when you are caught directly contravening those directions.

          • I stand by what I have said. A clear conflict has not been shown on the information so far given. I also note that the Ethics Commissioner would likely have been aware of the royalties based on Cash’s initial inquiry, and does not appear to have said they create a conflict of interest, rather a general rule was re-iterated. This would show that any conflict, even if it exists, is far from obvious. I invite the commissioner to specifically clear up this matter post-haste.

          • The issue is already clear. He has a private interest in the CBC, He was told not to involve himself in discussions of, or votes on, the CBC. He did both anyway. Pretending confusion is not an effective strategy to dodge responsibility. To his credit, I haven’t seen him pretending confusion, only refusing to comment.

          • At this point i can only request that you reread all the available material. Your conclusions are a possiblity but not necessarily warranted or made out. Ont he information so far available they are far from clear no matter what the CPC and others would have you believe.

          • I’ve read it thanks. With the Sun it’s always wise to be sceptical, but on the available evidence – direct quotes from Cash and the Ethics Commissioner – he’s guilty of a conflict of the code and of breaching his personal committment to the Ethics Commissioner. He doesn’t get to decide where is his personal interest begins and ends, he’s paid by the CBC and therefore should play no part in government deliberations regarding the CBC. He knows, you know it, I know it…

            You are doing the same thing as is done by the usual apologists and partisans. You are looking for loopholes, escape hatches, imprecisions in language. You are, in short, trying to muddy the waters. Sorry dude, your confusion is not contagious.

          • nope, he was told he could not vote in a CBC decision in which he had an interest, NOT that he couldn’t vote in any CBC matter because he had an interest. And if, as you say, the committee can only address the issue of funding, and if his getting royalties from a show automatically creates that interest in regards to funding, why did the commissioner not say “you may not vote in any matters regarding the CBC” and leave it at that, for clarity’s sake? It seems far more likely he can vote in some matters and not in others, and general funding might not be enough to affect his small interest in one aspect of one program.

          • No, it doesn’t, those are operational decisions, and furthermore production decisions are often made by third parties that produce the shows in agreement with CBC. I don’t know if that happened in this case, but whatshis loudmouth Kevin something seems to own a piece of it, and has produced an American version.

        • The article says her letter specially said he was prohibited from discussing matters concerning CBC’s funding and noted his promise not to speak at upcoming funding discussions. Then it says he did, arguing against funding cuts. Isn’t that an example directly in opposition to his instructions from the Ethics Commissioner?

          • Concerning funding “that may affect your private interest.” Read to the end of the sentence.

        • Also note the use of the word “may” here makes the prohibition more severe. It doesn’t even have to be the case that it will affect his income. Just that it may. Any cut to the CBC may result in them cancelling his show or it may not. Seems like he can’t discuss any CBC funding at all, because it may affect him.

          • REading comprehension – try it, you’ll like it!

          • “may” is used in the future conditional sense, in that if there is discussion planned that “may” affect his interests he has to avoid the discussion from the outset, not never participate because the Sun hates the CBC.

            Again, I agree he and the NDP have created the appearance of a conflict, but I don’t see an actual conflict. If the Heritage Committee is discussing the theme music for a particular CBC show the Chair should bang his or her gavel and tell the Members to get back to work.

          • I disagree. The only role that the government plays with regards to the CBC is the funding of same. They don’t get involved in programming debates or any direct management of the Corporation. Therefore, the only thing they can debate or vote on is the level of funding. Cash has a direct and substantial private interest in the CBC’s funding and can not take any position on the CBC – in his governance role – that does not put him into a conflict.

            If he made the argument that he can’t have any meaningful effect in a minority government, I’d probably agree with him. But the agreement he made with the Ethics Commissioner is clear and he clearly broke that agreement, if the original article is to be trusted.

          • I think you’ll find this is just not the case. had it been so the ethics commissioner would have been far more clear.

        • “On Sept. 26, 2011, Cash provided a commitment in writing to the House of Commons ethics commissioner and to the clerk of the House of Commons that he ‘shall not participate in debate or voting at the Standing Committee of Canadian Heritage on matters to do with the CBC in which I have a private interest.’”

          He’s acknowledged that he has a personal interest in the CBC, and states that he will not debate or vote on matters to do with the CBC. Don’t know much clearer that can be.

          • no. he is specifically allowed to vote on matters which affect the CBC ‘broadly’ and do not affect his specific interest.

            If you must lie, don’t do it so clearly.

          • And how would any votes that affect CBC funding not also affect his personal interest?

          • Because htey are unlikely to affect what song they use for Dragon’d den. Seriosuly, are you just taht dumb?

          • Really? So if the CBC got a 50% budget cut, they wouldn’t review all costs, including theme songs? Or if they got a 10% budget increase, they might not decide that the Dragon’s Den theme song could use a refresh, and why not go to previous writer for that one too? Are YOU that dumb?!

      • I read the story. No one has shown a clear example of him voting in a CBC matter where he had a conflict of interest.

  2. *If*, as alleged, Cash went against the Ethics Commissioner by participating in voting and discussion, then that is a problem. Cash argues why he thinks he should be able to vote, but it is not for him to decide.

  3. honestly,i still think CBC is the only true canadian content tv station in the country(also the best investigative reporting in the country)and should not suffer for this misjudgement of ethics by one member of a political party(ndp).CBC reminds canadians who canadians are,not these generic american stations(ctv,sun,global).

    • You don’t get out much?

    • Another leftie. Ever watch “Power and Politics”.
      Its embarrassing to watch this “debate”.
      Nobody ever provides solutions to Government just mud throwing.
      I prefer Ellen De Generes or Judge Judy. Its more intelligent

  4. To paraphrase Christian Paradis, uttered 3 different times, ” i accept thing findings from the accusation and will do things differently next time”

    • Certainly, if the ethics commissioner clairifies that this is a conflict, the appropriate measures should be taken.

  5. What I found more shocking than Cash’s conflict of interest is that the CBC is actually paying a guy $40,000/yr for a 30-second jingle that was written years ago. Talk about a misuse of taxpayer’s money! Why not just buy the rights to it outright when the show first airs?!

    • That would be even more expensive. YOu could try hiring someone off the street to write something for you and assign the rights to you for cheap, but then you might get blacklisted by professional artists and be even worse off.

  6. Until Canadians learn to pay attention to election campaigns
    with one eye and one ear, and attention between elections with both eyes and
    both ears; they will continue to vote for political parties like programmed
    idiots.

    None of the political parties are your friends.

    If you choose to vote for yourself instead of good fiscal
    management, you will always get what you deserve.

  7. Clearly a conflict of interest. You get thousands of dollars to provide a service and then later you debate the merits of that service in the House of Commons.
    DUUUHHH!!!
    Pure conflict of interest.
    Had the Libbys done that all hell would have broken loose. Now the DIPPERS are quiet when one of their own broke the rules. Political bribery, no less. Shameful. Pay it back or resign.

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