Letter to Federal Political Party Leaders
on Keeping Promises and an Honesty-in-Politics Law
Dear federal political party leaders,
Voters have heard promises from party leaders in 39 previous federal elections, and they have seen and experienced after many, many of those elections promises being broken, occasionally because a situation has changed in an unforeseen and unexpected reason, or because in a minority government situation other parties have forces changes to promised decisions or actions, but usually for no good reason at all.
As well, voters have watched for decades federal politicians, their staff, appointees and government employees making false statements, often to cover up what they have done, what they are doing, or what they are going to do, as well as members of Parliament abuse their parliamentary privileges almost daily to make false and often slanderous statements in the House of Commons and the Senate.
Several surveys over the past decade show that dishonesty in politics is a top concern of voters, and also a main reason for the decrease in voter turnout. This is understandable, given that dishonesty in politics undermines every decision and action of government, and false election promises make it essentially impossible for voters to make an informed choice when casting a ballot.
So, will you show respect for voters, and show that you trust yourself to keep your own promises, by first pledging to resign whether or not you are elected into power or hold the balance of power after the current election, and you then break any of your party's election promises (except in cases of truly unforeseen and unexpected changes in situations, or in a minority government situation in which other parties truly force changes to your promised decisions or actions)?
And if you won't make this pledge, will you make a pledge to penalize yourself in some other significant way if you are elected into power, or hold the balance of power, after the current election, and you then break any of your party's election promises (except in cases of truly unforeseen and unexpected changes in situations, or in a minority government situation if other parties truly force changes to your promised decisions or actions)?
Secondly, will you show that you share voters' concern about the serious problem of dishonesty in politics, and are committed to helping ensure that the problem is effectively addressed, by pledging to support and actively work for the passage of an honesty-in-politics law that requires all federal politicians and candidates of all types, their staff, appointees, and government employees to be honest at all times (including during elections, and covering party switching by MPs in between elections for no good reason), and that creates an easy complaint process that anyone can use without cost to file a complaint with an independent watchdog agency (such as the federal Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner) which has the power and mandate to penalize anyone making a false statement with an effective penalty (such as a high fine)?
And if you will not make this pledge, will you pledge to support the passage of an honesty-in-politics law to cover everyone involved in Parliament and the federal government that includes equally effective measures and processes to ensure that dishonesty in politics in penalized?
To be clear, the watchdog agency would have the power to reject frivolous and vexatious complaints, and would also have the power to excuse broken promises if a truly unforeseen and unexpected change in a situation occurred, and the power to excuse false statements if they were truly made because of an innocent error.
And if you won't make either the pledge to resign or penalize yourself in some equally significant way if you break any election promise, and make the pledge to support and actively work for the passage of a comprehensive honesty-in-politics law with significant penalties, why then do you think that voters should trust you, let alone vote in favour of your party?
I look forward to receiving your response very soon, and of course before voting day.
Duff Conacher, Coordinator
PLEASE print out and give your local candidates this letter to pass on to their party leader,
and/or copy the letter set out above and send it by email to federal political party leaders by
Democracy Watch's Federal Election 2011 webpage
To see an op-ed with details about the honesty-in-politics law, click here
Democracy Watch's Honesty
in Politics Campaign webpage