Friday, November 04, 2005

 

Bill C-1 of Canada's 39th Parliament? Dare We Hope?

Friday, November 04, 2005

OTTAWA (CP) - Stephen Harper says a Conservative government would immediately introduce sweeping ethics legislation to ban corporate donations to political parties, restrict lobbying, and hand more power to the auditor general.

The Tory leader released details Friday of his proposed Federal Accountability Act, which he says would be the first piece of legislation introduced by his government.
Harper told a gathering of his MPs they should leave the party if they plan to replace the Liberals without changing Ottawa's culture.

"This exercise will be meaningless unless our government is different. We must do nothing less than replace the culture of entitlement with the culture of accountability. . . . We are going to change the way government works, not just change colour on the letterhead."

His proposed accountability act would:

-Set a $1,000 limit on personal donations to a political party, and ban corporate and union donations.

-Ban cash donations of more than $20: "This means no more big interests lobbying the prime minister behind closed doors at $5,000-a-ticket cocktail parties."

-Ban former cabinet ministers, ministerial staffers, or senior public officials from lobbying government for five years.

-Require all ministers and senior officials to keep records of their contacts with lobbyists.

-Set out penalties that would enforce the Lobbyists Registration Act and make the lobbyists' registrar an officer of Parliament: "Politics will no longer be a stepping stone to a lucrative career lobbying government."

-Create a public-appointments commission to set merit-based requirements for appointments to government boards, commissions and agencies.

-Broaden the auditor general's role, allowing her not just to investigate government spending but also to follow the money trail to political parties.

-Hire a new procurement auditor to monitor government contracts.

-Ban trust funds for individual candidates' campaigns.

-Establish cash rewards for whistleblowers who expose wrongdoing or save taxpayer dollars.

-Extend the Access to Information Act to cover Crown corporations, and review the current exemption of cabinet secrets from the act.

Harper repeated his promise that a Tory government would sue the Liberal party over the sponsorship scandal.

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