The report released yesterday by Justice John Gomery confirms that a culture of entitlement and cronyism runs deeply into the Liberal Party of Canada — a culture that punishes whistleblowers while it rewards well-connected Liberal friends with taxpayer dollars.

“Canadians are fed up with the status quo,” said Ed Broadbent, NDP MP (Ottawa Centre). “Under Paul Martin cynicism hasn’t gone away, it’s deepened and the people of this country want and deserve politicians and institutions they can trust.”

It’s time to toughen up the rules for lobbyists and the well-connected corporations that do business with Ottawa, Broadbent added.

Paul Martin has consistently refused to act to clean up unethical Liberal practices. Unregistered corporate lobbyists with strong links to the Liberal Party operate unchecked, while the Prime Minister keeps appointing his well connected friends to Canada’s highest offices.

“Canadians are fed up with this government’s record of lax ethical standards and the NDP has delivered a set of democratic and ethical reforms that will close these glaring loopholes,” Broadbent said.

“Honesty, fairness and transparency should be the rule, not the exception in our political life,” said NDP Leader Jack Layton. “It is time we put an end to rules made by Liberal insiders that are designed to protect Liberal friends.”

“Wherever we can, we must put an end to backroom wheeling and dealing in politics,” said Broadbent. “It’s time to clean up. It’s time we politicians put aside private gain and chose instead the public good.”

The NDP package addresses government appointments based on merit over cronyism, strengthening access to information and electoral finance laws and electoral reform through proportional representation.

Broadbent laid out a seven point ethics package the NDP will be introducing to deal with unregulated lobbying, political cronyism, access to information and other issues the Martin government continues to ignore.

  • (1) Democratic accountability should mean no M.P. can ignore his/her voters and wheel and deal for personal gain: No MP should be permitted to ignore their voters’ wishes, change parties, cross the floor, and become a member of another party without first resigning their seats and running in a by-election.
  • (2) Election dates should be fixed: governing parties should lose their control over when we vote. The date should be every four years. This would add transparency about dates for voters and for other political parties.
  • (3) Set spending limits and transparency conditions on leadership contests within political parties: Parties are largely financed by the public and the same principles pertinent to the public good should apply to the internal affairs of parties as they do to electoral competition between parties.
  • (4) Electoral reform: A major source of needed democratic reform is our outmoded first-past-the-post electoral system. Our present system does not reflect Canadian voters’ intentions. Fairness means we need a mixed electoral system that combines individual constituency-based MPs with proportional representation.
  • (5) Unregulated lobbying and political cronyism must end: We need tougher laws requiring disclosure of fees and expenditures of lobbyists. We also need to make illegal the acceptance of profit-based fees. The government must initiate reforms with tough sanctions applicable to wrongdoing in the public sector.
  • (6) Government appointments: Unfair and unethical patronage practice must stop in the appointment of thousands of officials to federal agencies, boards, commissions and Crown Corporations. The New Democratic Party proposes that the government develop skills and competence-related criteria for all government appointments, that these criteria be publicly released and that committees scrutinize appointments.
  • (7) Access to information: A recent bill introduced by Irwin Cotler contains proposals that would actually reduce Canadians access to information, virtually killing reform until after the next election. Canadians want more access to information about their government.