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ISSUE: Cleaning Up the Federal Government's Good Government System

Please print and use the Good Government sticker/door sign (PDF)

Clean Up the System main page

Background Information  |
Addresses for Politicians  |

The 100 undemocratic and accountability loopholes in the government must be closed now!

PLEASE SEND A LETTER to all the federal political party leaders right now calling for key government accountability changes (See Addresses set out below).

The following SAMPLE LETTER provides a brief summary of the 100 loopholes that still exist even after all 30 of the measures in the so-called "Accountability Act" of 2006 have been implemented.

To be most effective, please use the SAMPLE LETTER only as a model for writing your own letter, and please note that sending a letter by mail or fax is much more effective than sending an email.

Provincial governments have similar loopholes in their good government laws, and to find the addresses of your provincial politicians to send a letter calling on them to close the loopholes, click here.

Dear Prime Minister / Opposition Party Leader / Your MP:

Please pass a Real Government Accountability Act that makes many key democratic reform, good government and government accountability changes.

The federal government's accountability system is the real scandal because for more than 140 years it has allowed politicians, government appointees, political staff, government employees and lobbyists to act dishonestly, unethically, secretively, non-representatively and wastefully.

Either laws and rules don't exist or are full of loopholes, or enforcement and penalties are too weak to prevent wrongdoing and penalize wrongdoers effectively.  In total, there are 100 gaping loopholes in the federal government's accountability system.

Incredibly, the laws against illegal parking in Canada are enforced more strongly and effectively than key government accountability laws and rules, and in some cases the penalties for parking illegally are higher than for wrongdoing in the federal government!

You can see a list of the 100 loopholes at:  http://www.dwatch.ca/camp/SummaryOfLoopholes.html

The problem is undeniable, as dozens of scandals have occurred and, in the recent years, Canada's federal government has dropped from 5th to 14th in the Global Corruption Rankings of governments, and left Canada in 19th position as a "moderate level" country among 100 countries whose federal government has been graded on key democratic and good government factors.

If the democratic and good government, and government accountability systems are not strengthened in many key ways, corruption will continue to infect the federal government, and the government will continue to fail to solve Canada's problems and continue to fail to address Canadians' concerns in many areas.

I will not vote for you or any of your party's representatives if you do not promise in writing to resign if you and your party does not do everything it can to close the 100 loopholes in the federal government's accountability system within one year after the upcoming federal election by passing strong, loophole-free rules, establishing fully-empowered, independent watchdog agencies, and ensuring violators face high penalties.

In summary, the federal government's overall accountability system must be strengthened to add a new honesty-in-politics law, and the existing lobbying regulation, money in politics regulation and open government regulation systems (including the whistleblower protection system) must be strengthened in many key ways. 

To ensure wrongdoing is cleaned up and wrongdoers identified and penalized, the powers of key government accountability enforcement agencies must also be strengthened.  In addition, the Prime Minister's powers to appoint people to law enforcement agencies and call snap elections and sut down Parliament must be restricted, and everyone in government must be required to consult with Canadians' in meaningful ways before they make decisions or policy changes. 

Last but certainly not least, the government must help citizens band together to counter the power of corporate lobby groups by facilitating the creation of citizen watchdog groups using a method that has worked very well in the U.S.

The 100 loopholes make legal the following 25 dishonest, unethical, secretive, unrepresentative and wasteful actions by people involved in federal politics, even after the passage of the so-called "Federal Accountability Act" in December 2006:

Representative decision-making loopholes

  • governments are still not required to consult with the public in a meaningful way (through referendums or other ways) even when making important, society-changing decisions;
  • even individual politicians are controlled by their party leaders and often not allowed to represent their voters' interests (in part because parties often control nomination races in ridings (see below under "Election loopholes"), but also because of lack of resources for parliamentary committees, and because of vague rules in Parliament about what is a vote of confidence that requires politicians to support their party);
  • past governments have ignored task force, House and Senate committee recommendations to require business sectors to facilitate the creation of citizen watchdog groups;
  • there are still no effective checks on the power of Cabinet ministers to appoint party supporters to law enforcement positions such as judges and the heads of watchdog agencies, boards, commissions and tribunals (such as requiring a majority of federal political party leaders to approve every appointment);
  • there are no restrictions on when the Prime Minister can shut down Parliament;
  • the federal Senate is still unaccountable in every way;
Honesty in politics loopholes
  • politicians, their staff, and government employees are still allowed to lie to the public, including switching parties between elections only to advance their career;
Secrecy loopholes
  • keeping information secret that the public has a clear right to know is still legal because loopholes in disclosure rules and lack of enforcement powers for watchdog agencies (including that the identity of government employees who break rules is not disclosed publicly);
  • secret lobbying is still legal, especially by corporate lobbyists;
  • when Parliament is shut down, many good government watchdog agencies are not allowed to release reports;
Government ethics loopholes
  • Cabinet ministers, MPs, senators, their staff, Cabinet appointees and senior government employees are still allowed to be involved in policy-making processes even when they have a conflict of interest that affects their own personal financial interests;
  • there are still no effective penalties for politicians, political staff and government employees who violate key ethics rules;
  • many politicians, their staff, and senior government employees are still allowed to become lobbyists too soon after they leave their government positions;
  • many people who blow-the-whistle on government wrongdoing are still not effectively protected from retaliation;
Elections loopholes
  • there is currently no clear restriction that fixes election dates in Canada and prohibits the Prime Minister from calling snap elections (according to Supreme Court of Canada);
  • riding nomination races and political party leadership races are still controlled by the parties and, as a result, are often undemocratic and unfair with no clear right to appeal abuses and violations of rules;
  • party leaders still have the power to arbitrarily reject or remove a riding association's candidate without the riding association's consent;
  • false phone calls are effectively legal during election campaigns;
  • voters still do not have a clear, well-promoted right to vote for "none of the above" (and to give a reason, such as that there is no candidate in their riding that they support, or that none of the parties are addressing their concerns);
  • the voting system does not ensure that each candidate has the overall support of a majority of voters in their riding to be elected (and therefore allows parties to win a majority of seats with the support of a minority of voters);
Money in politics loopholes
  • secret, unlimited donations are still legal to candidates in riding nomination races and political party leadership races;
  • secret donations to parties, riding associations, politicians and government officials (and former politicians and officials) are still effectively legal because watchdogs lack key powers and enforcement measures;
  • loopholes in donation limits and disclosure requirements allow unlimited, secret loans to candidates, and allow large organizations to give employees paid leave to work for political parties;
  • the individual donation limit of $2,200 annually ($3,300 in election years) is much higher than the average Canadian can afford and must be cut in half;
Spending loopholes
  • contracts can still be handed out without a bidding competition in some cases;
  • politicians and their staff continue to be able to hide the details of their spending and expense accounts from a full audit by the Auditor General, and are able to wine and dine party supporters and lobbyists with the public picking up the bill, and;
  • the pay and perks for politicians are still too high above the salary of average Canadians;
Enforcement loopholes
  • the powers of all of the good government watchdog agencies are too weak, and they have too much choice in how they do their jobs and report on their activities, and;
  • only the federal Cabinet can initiate a public inquiry into the government's actions, and as a result many very questionable situations are never fairly or independently investigated.
Please let me know in detail by reply letter whether you will commit to doing everything you can to close the 100 remaining loopholes in the federal government's accountability system before the next election, and whether you will commit to resigning if you do not do everything you can to make these changes within one year after the next election.  Again, your party will not have any chance of receiving my vote unless you make these commitments in writing.

Again, you can see a list of the 100 loopholes at:  http://www.dwatch.ca/camp/SummaryOfLoopholes.html

I'm counting on you to prove you are a political leader by doing all you can to ensure that the changes set out above are made within the next two years, to finally put an end to dishonest, unethical, secretive, non-representative and wasteful "politics as usual" in the federal government.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Your name and address


SEND YOUR LETTER BY MAIL calling for passage of a federal Good Government law to:
Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper, Interim Liberal Party Leader Bob Rae, the NDP and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May
and to your own MP
all at the following address (NO POSTAGE NEEDED):

House of Commons
Ottawa, Canada
K1A 0A6
(To find your MP using your postal code, click here)

OR send your letter by email to all the federal party leaders and key MPs and senators by copying the following email addresses:
pm@pm.gc.ca, harper.s@parl.gc.ca, bob.rae@parl.gc.ca, rae.b0@parl.gc.ca, ndpadmin@fed.ndp.ca, thomas.mulcair@parl.gc.ca, may.e@parl.gc.ca, may.e0@parl.gc.ca, leader@greenparty.ca, info@greenparty.ca, media@greenparty.ca, dwatch@web.net, oggo@parl.gc.ca, ethi@parl.gc.ca, proc@parl.gc.ca, just@parl.gc.ca, leg-jur@sen.parl.gc.ca

Provincial governments have a similar list of 100 loopholes in their good government laws, and to find the addresses of your provincial politicians to send a letter calling on them to close the loopholes, click here.

AND please send a copy of your letter by email to Democracy Watch at: <dwatch@web.net>

You can send your letter by fax or email individually to:
Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper
Fax: 613-941-6900
Email: <pm@pm.gc.ca>
Email: <harper.s@parl.gc.ca>

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae
Fax: 613-947-0310
Email: bob.rae@parl.gc.ca, rae.b0@parl.gc.ca

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair
Fax: 613-230-9950
Email: <thomas.mulcair@parl.gc.ca>
Email: <ndpadmin@fed.ndp.ca>

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May
Email: <leader@greenparty.ca>

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Updated April 17, 2012

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