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ALBAS: Liberals trying to 'change the channel' on Morneau ethics scandal

Dan Albas a Member of Parliament.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Dan Albas
November 18, 2017 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


This week in Ottawa, it was revealed that Finance Minister Bill Morneau is now being investigated by the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

This investigation centres around his involvement in a pension bill that may have financially benefited a company that Mr. Morneau was reported to own roughly $21 million worth of shares in.

Ottawa pundits have observed that this is the first time both a sitting Prime Minister and the Finance Minister have been under ethics investigations at the same time.

As is often the case when a Government is under an ethics scandal, efforts are made to “change the channel”.

Early this week the Liberal Government announced it would publicly post an online “mandate tracker” where Canadians can see the Government's progress on key initiatives. In theory this a good idea, however, in execution the Liberals have come up short on this one and I will explain why.

The first challenge with the Liberal mandate tracker is that it is not based on the promises that the Liberals made in order to get elected. Rather the mandate tracker is based on the mandate letters to the Ministers of the Liberal Government. For example, the Liberals promised to restore Canada Post door to door delivery. However, in the mandate letter to the Minister who oversees Canada Post, only a review of door to door mail delivery was requested but not a restoral of service.

As the Liberals have conducted the review of door to door mail service, they can boast they have met this commitment even though it falls short of what was actually promised during the election.

The other challenge I have with the mandate tracker is that the Liberal Government themselves decide how much they have actually accomplished.

In other words, it is not the Parliamentary Budget Officer or any other independent and objective department providing this information.

Ultimately I would submit this mandate tracking idea could have had more usefulness to Canadians if it was handled differently.

Also this week we learned the long awaited details of the Liberal Government's new peacekeeping measures. As some may recall during the election, Mr. Trudeau had suggested that Canada was out of peacekeeping business and promised an increase in Canadian peacekeeping forces. 

This promise led to a commitment from the Prime Minister before the 2016 UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial Conference in the UK, to provide up to 600 troops and 150 police for a specific deployment that was promised to be announced at a future date.

Today we know this 2016 commitment will be yet another promise that is not fully honoured by this Prime Minister. Instead only 200 personnel and 50 police will be provided in primarily training and transport roles. There will be no specific deployment zone despite many promises and overseas trips to explore potential peacekeeping opportunities over the past two years.

I am not suggesting that Canada will not continue to serve a useful role in UN peacekeeping operations with this significantly reduced commitment. My observation is that once again we see a pattern where Mr. Trudeau is pleased to make a significant announcement with a photo opportunity, as was done in the 2016, only to move the goal posts at a later date.

My question this week: Should the Prime Minister have fully honoured his 2016 commitment to the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial Conference?

I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.


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