View From the Hill by Keith Beardsley – Do you remember this section from the 2006 Conservative Election Platform? May 2, 2010

Stand up for Accountability

Strengthen the power of the Auditor General

• Increase funding for the Office of the Auditor General to ensure she has the necessary resources to conduct a complete audit of grant and contribution programs and of any such departments, agencies, and Crown corporations as she deems necessary.

Do you remember this section from the 2006 Conservative Election Platform?

While not a perfect fit with the Auditor General’s wish to examine the books of MPs and Senators, it certainly implies an openness to cooperate with her.  If some provincial jurisdictions and some other countries such as the UK open the books of their elected officials to an audit, why won’t our MPs open theirs?

Could it be because they know that the improper spending habits of elected officials in those other jurisdictions were exposed to public view and legal consequences?

In one media report Shawn Murphy, the Liberal Chair of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee is quoted as follows:

“Still, Murphy fears it would be folly to subject the expenses of 308 federal politicians to a uniform accounting standard. The way a politician conducts his parliamentary business is, by definition, political and “murky,” he said.” (Toronto Star, May 1, 2010)

“There has to be the leeway because every riding is different. Members come to the Parliament with different backgrounds, different interests, which is a good thing. They approach it in 308 different ways.” (Toronto Star, May 1, 2010)

“Political and murky” is exactly why the AG needs to look at the spending of our MPs and yes, our senators too.

Having MPs approach spending in 308 different ways, each thinking their riding is special and different, is a receipt for disaster. This is exactly the reason we need a uniform accounting code. This is why taxpayers need an independent audit and full public disclosure, on a yearly basis of each MP and senators spending.

Murphy feels elections give Canadians a chance to pass judgement on MPs spending habits. That would be true if we actually knew what they were spending our taxpayer’s dollars on. As they keep their spending secret, we can’t pass judgement which is probably the point in the first place.

If the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy won’t cooperate with the Auditor General, then individual MPs, who actually believe in accountability, should take the initiative and post on their web sites a list of their expenses. Maybe they can shame their colleagues into doing the same thing. As taxpayers, we should make this a condition for each candidate wishing our support in the next election.

Perhaps a media outlet will poll each and every one of our 308 MPs and ask if they support a full audit of their books by the Auditor General. A simple yes or no answer is all that is needed. Then the results can be published for all Canadians to see how their elected representative feels about accountability.

MPs of all parties demand the government of the day be open and transparent. So tell us how each representative of each party on the Board of Internal Economy voted on this request by the Auditor General? Come clean and tell us which party or parties are blocking this request. Time for MPs to practice what they preach or do they have something to hide?

Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails.

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  1. If businesses have to conform to standard accounting practises then MPs should too. We saw what happens when companies become creative with their books. It created one of the worst recessions in modern times.

    What will we call it when the shit hits the fan over MPs financial malfeasance? Oopsygate, con-spend-spree, a new Liberal Majority?

  2. The last 6 words say it all, do they have something to hide?

  3. it’s not do they have something to hide, its “they have something to hide!”

  4. But I said it after the next election after the first one with Harper, that Harper is no better than Dalton McGuinty. Say what you need to get where you need and then totally do something else…

  5. “MPs, who actually believe in accountability, should take the initiative and post on their websites a list of their expenses. Maybe they can shame their colleagues into doing the same thing.” Good idea… simple way to set an example. The question is: What to do about MPs who persist in acting as though they are beyond shame? Suggestion: create a website (or space in a website) for voters to name them and the actions that shame them…internet version of medieval practice of putting people in the stocks. How about it, admin? Names, anyone?

  6. Awesome idea PJR 😀

  7. Reg, seems to me that Harper wanted to spend less than the Liberals on the stimulus front, and I can’t imagine the Liberals were more in control.

    I am less concerned with a few hundred MP’s than on the 10’s of thousands of employees in each level of governement. Are we sure we need each of them? Or entire departments for that matter? We can not afford nice to haves. Lets deal with those issues, by then everyone else would have followed suit.

  8. PJR, some good points. Maybe someone (who has the skill) can create a facebook page demanding MPS let the AG in to look at their books and collect signatures online.

  9. Reg, you hit it on the head! Ignartieff comes out being against allowing Ms.Fraser to audit he and his MP’s of the Liberal faith. Again, the Liberals sense of entitlement! When will that stop?

  10. PJR “Names, anyone?” I can’t see why anyone in their right mind would want to post anything about their expense spending on their websites! If all citizens were required to do that I’d say OK. Anything less is just discrimination! Listening to you “fear mongers” is a laugh. Eventually you’d want to know how much a person had in the bank, investments, age of car, monthly rent on house, wife’s bra size and a persons pant size, and any irrelevant information you could glean! Where will this all end? What a laff.

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