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News Release

Federal Liberals’ Fundraising Auction of Cash for Access to MPs  Violates Canada Elections Act and MPs’ Ethics Rules -- Party and MPs Must Be Penalized

Friday, February 15, 2008

OTTAWA - Today, Democracy Watch called on the federal Commissioner of Canada Elections and Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to order the Liberal Party of Canada (and/or its MPs or riding associations) to return any money received from any corporation or other organization as a result of the Party’s auction February 13th of golfing with MP Paul Martin, attending a hockey game with MP Ken Dryden, and playing tennis with Liberal by-election candidate Bob Rae and his brother, Power Corporation Vice-President John Rae.  The Commissioners should also penalize the Party and MPs for the scheme.

An official of the Liberal Party has said they believe that payments made as a result of the auction are legal because the time of the MPs and the Raes have market value and so payment for their time is not a “contribution” as defined by the Canada Elections Act and therefore is unlimited and never has to be disclosed.  However, the payments are going to the Party, not to Mr. Martin, Mr. Dryden and the Raes.  As a result, this fundraising scheme definitely violates the plain meaning, and of course the spirit, of the prohibition in section 404 of the Canada Elections Act on donations of money, property or services by corporations or other organizations to political parties, riding associations and election candidates.

The payments cannot go to the Liberal MPs because section 14 of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons (MPs Code) prohibits MPs from accepting any such gift or benefit other than the compensation they receive as an MP, in particular gifts that could compromise their integrity.  By even participating in such an access-for-cash scheme, Mr. Martin and Mr. Dryden are violating the purpose and principles of the MPs Code that require MPs to uphold the highest standards, to maintain and enhance public trust and confidence in their integrity, to avoid real or apparent conflicts of interest, and to act in a manner that bears the closest public scrutiny.

Mr. Rae is not an MP, but as a by-election candidate he is prohibited by section 92.2 of the Canada Elections Act from accepting any gift or benefit that could influence him, and is required to disclose all gifts worth more than $500 (whether or not he uses them for his by-election campaign) to Elections Canada.

A huge loophole still exists in the Canada Elections Act that allows secret, unlimited donations to nomination race and party leadership candidates, if they don’t use what is donated for their campaign.

"By offering the highest bidder access to Paul Martin, Ken Dryden and Bob Rae for cash, including corporate bidders, the Liberal Party and their MPs are participating in a scheme that violates the Canada Elections Act and ethics rules for MPs," said Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch and Chairperson of the nation-wide Money in Politics Coalition..

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For more information, contact:
Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch
Tel: 613-241-5179

Democracy Watch's Money in Politics Campaign

Democracy Watch's Government Ethics Campaign

Democracy Watch's Clean Up the System webpage


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